The Project Gutenberg eBook, South with Scott, by Edward R. G. R. Evans
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Title: South with Scott
Author: Edward R. G. R. Evans
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***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SOUTH WITH SCOTT***
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so apparently did his editor. I corrected several obvious errors
in the book and listed them at the end of the text. Many more
doubtful spellings and countless abbreviations remain as they
appear in the text.
I have deleted the symbols for "degree" "minute" and "second"
which appear regularly throughout the text and substituted the
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SOUTH WITH SCOTT
REAR-ADMIRAL EDWARD R. G. R. EVANS
C.B., D.S.O, R.N.
Illustrated with Maps and Photographs
London & Glasgow
Collins' Clear-Type Press
Lashly and Crean
THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
The object of this book is to keep alive the interest of English-speaking
people in the story of Scott and his little band of sailor-adventurers,
scientific explorers, and companions. It is written more particularly for
Britain's younger generations.
I have to acknowledge with gratitude the assistance of Miss Zeala
Wakeford Cox of Shanghai and Pay-master Lieutenant-Commander Bernard
Carter of H.M.S. "Carlisle."
Without their help, I doubt if the book would have found its way into
Edward R.G.R. Evans.
February, 27, 1921.
BRITISH ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION, 1910.
ROBERT FALCON SCOTT Captain, C.V.O., R.N. (The "Owner," "The Boss").
EDWARD R.G.R. EVANS Lieut. R.N. ("Teddy").
VICTOR L.A. CAMPBELL Lieut. R.N. ("The Wicked Mate")
HENRY R. BOWERS Lieut. Royal Indian Marines ("Birdie").
LAWRENCE E.G. OATES Captain 6th Inniskilling Dragoons ("Titus,"
G. MURRAY LEVICK Surgeon R.N.
EDWARD L. ATKINSON Surgeon R.N., Parasitologist ("Atch").
EDWARD ADRIAN WILSON B.A., M.B. (Cantab.), Chief of the Scientific
Staff, and Zoologist ("Uncle Bill").
GEORGE C. SIMPSON D.Sc., Meteorologist ("Sunny Jim.")
T. GRIFFITH TAYLOR B.A., B.Sc., B.E., Geologist ("Griff").
EDWARD W. NELSON Biologist ("Marie").
FRANK DEBENHAM B.A., B.Sc., Geologist ("Deb.")
CHARLES S. WRIGHT B.A., Physicist.
RAYMOND E. PRIESTLEY Geologist.
HERBERT G. PONTING F.R.G.S., Camera Artist.
CECIL H. MEARES In charge of dogs.
BERNARD C. DAY Motor Engineer.
APSLEY CHERRY-GARRARD B.A., Asst. Zoologist ("Cherry").
TRYGGVE GRAN Sub.-Lieut. Norwegian N.R., B.A., Ski Expert.
W. LASHLY C. Stoker, R.N.
W.W. ARCHER Chief Steward, late R.N.
THOMAS CLISSOLD Cook, late R.N.
EDGAR EVANS Petty Officer, R.N.
ROBERT FORDE Petty Officer, R.N.
THOMAS CREAN Petty Officer, R.N.
THOMAS S. WILLIAMSON Petty Officer, R.N.
PATRICK KEOHANE Petty Officer, R.N.
GEORGE P. ABBOTT Petty Officer, R.N.
FRANK V. BROWNING Petty Officer, 2nd Class, R.N.
HARRY DICKASON Able Seaman, R.N.
F.J. HOOPER Steward, late R.N.
ANTON OMELCHENKO Groom.
DIMITRI GEROF Dog Driver.
HARRY L. L. PENNELL Lieutenant, R.N.
HENRY E. DE P. RENNICK Lieutenant. R.N.
WILFRED M. BRUCE Lieutenant, R.N.R.
FRANCIS R. H. DRAKE Assistant Paymaster, R.N.(Retired), Secretary and
Meteorologist in ship.
DENNIS G. LILLIE M.A., Biologist in ship.
JAMES R. DENNISTOUN In charge of Mules in ship.
ALFRED B. CHEETHAM R.N.R., Boatswain.
WILLIAM WILLIAMS Chief Engine Room Artificer, R.N., Engineer.
WILLIAM A. HORTON Engine Room Artificer, 3rd Class, R.N., 2nd
FRANCIS E. C. DAVIES Leading Shipwright, R.N.
FREDERICK PARSONS Petty Officer, R.N.
WILLIAM L. HEALD Late Petty Officer, R. N.
ARTHUR S. BAILEY Petty Officer, 2nd Class, R.N.
ALBERT BALSON Leading Seaman, R.N.
JOSEPH LEESE Able Seaman, R.N.
JOHN HUGH MATHER Petty Officer, R.N.V.R.
ROBERT OLIPHANT Able Seaman.
THOMAS F. MCLEOD Able Seaman.
MORTIMER MCCARTHY Able Seaman.
WILLIAM KNOWLES Able Seaman.
CHARLES WILLIAMS Able Seaman.
JAMES SKELTON Able Seaman.
WILLIAM MCDONALD Able Seaman.
JAMES PATON Able Seaman.
ROBERT BRISSENDEN Leading Stoker, R.N.
EDWARD A. MCKENZIE Leading Stoker, R.N.
WILLIAM BURTON Leading Stoker, R.N.
BERNARD J. STONE Leading Stoker, R.N.
AGUS MCDONALD Fireman.
THOMAS MCGILLON Fireman.
CHARLES LAMMAS Fireman.
W.H. NEALE Steward.
I. SOUTH POLAR EXPEDITION--OUTFIT AND AIMS
II. VOYAGE OF THE "TERRA NOVA"
III. ASSEMBLING OF UNITS--DEPARTURE FROM NEW ZEALAND
IV. THROUGH STORMY SEAS
V. ANTARCTICA--THROUGH THE PACK ICE TO LAND
VI. SETTLING DOWN TO THE POLAR LIFE
VII. ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE WINTER
VIII. THE WINTER CLOSES IN
IX. PRELIMINARY EXPLORATIONS
X. SPRING DEPOT JOURNEY
XI. PREPARATIONS AND PLANS FOR THE SUMMER SEASON
XII. SOUTHERN JOURNEY--MOTOR SLEDGES ADVANCE
XIII. THE BARRIER STAGE
XIV. ON THE BEARDMORE GLACIER AND BEYOND
XV. RETURN OF THE LAST SUPPORTING PARTY
XVI. THE POLE ATTAINED--SCOTT'S LAST MARCHES
XVII. THE SECOND WINTER--FINDING OF THE POLAR PARTY
XVIII. ADVENTURES OF THE NORTHERN PARTY
XIX. NARRATIVE OF THE "TERRA NOVA"
SOUTH POLAR EXPEDITION--OUTFIT AND AIMS
It is nine years since the last supporting party bid farewell to Captain
Scott and his four brave companions, whose names are still fresh in the
memory of those who were interested in Captain Scott's last Polar
Expedition. The Great War has come and gone and the majority of us wish
to forget it, but the story of Scott undoubtedly appeals still to a great
number of people. It is a good story, and my only hope is that I can
retell it well enough to make my volume worth while reading after so much
has already been published concerning the work of the British Antarctic
Expedition of 1910.
The main object of our expedition was to reach the South Pole and secure
for the British nation the honour of that achievement, but the attainment
of the Pole was far from being the only object in view, for Scott
intended to extend his former discoveries and bring back a rich harvest
of scientific results. Certainly no expedition ever left our shores with
a more ambitious scientific programme, nor was any enterprise of this
description ever undertaken by a more enthusiastic and determined
personnel. We should never have collected our expeditionary funds merely
from the scientific point of view; in fact, many of our largest
supporters cared not one iota for science, but the idea of the Polar
adventure captured their interest. On the other hand, a number of our
supporters affected a contempt for the Polar dash and only interested
themselves in the question of advanced scientific study in the Antarctic.
As the expedition progressed, however, the most unenthusiastic member of
the company developed the serious taste, and in no case did we ever hear
from the scientific staff complaints that the Naval members failed to
help them in their work with a zeal that was quite unexpected. This
applies more particularly to the seamen and stokers.
Captain Scott originally intended to make his winter quarters in King
Edward VII. Land, but altered the arrangement after the fullest
discussion with his scientific friends and advisers, and planned that a
small party of six should examine this part of the Antarctic and follow
the coast southward from its junction with the Great Ice Barrier,
penetrating as far south as they were able, surveying geographically and
geologically. This part of the programme was never carried out, owing to
the ice conditions thereabouts preventing a landing either on the Barrier
or in King Edward VII. Land itself.
The main western party Scott planned to command himself, the base to be
at Cape Crozier or in McMurdo Sound, near the site of the "Discovery's"
old winter quarters at Cape Armitage, the exact position to be governed
by the ice conditions on arrival.
Dogs, ponies, motor sledges and man-hauling parties on ski were to
perform the Polar journey by a system of relays or supporting parties.
Scott's old comrade, Dr. E.A. Wilson of Cheltenham, was selected as chief
of the scientific staff and to act as artist to the expedition. Three
geologists were chosen and two biologists, to continue the study of
marine fauna and carry out research work in depths up to 500 fathoms. The
expeditionary ship was to be fitted for taking deep-sea soundings and
magnetic observations, and the meteorological programme included the
exploration of the upper air currents and the investigation of the
electrical conditions of the atmosphere. We were fortunate in securing as
meteorologist the eminent physicist, Dr. G. Simpson, who is now head of
the Meteorological Office in London. Dr. Simpson was to have charge of
the self-recording magnetic instruments ashore at the main base.
Study of ice structure and glaciation was undertaken by Mr. C.S. Wright,
who was also assistant physicist. The magnetic work of the ship was
entrusted to Lieut. Harry Pennell, R.N., an officer of more than ordinary
scientific attainments and a distinguished navigator. Lieut. Henry
Rennick was given control of the hydrographical survey work and deep-sea
sounding. Two surgeons were lent by the Royal Navy for the study of
bacteriology and parasitology in addition to their medical duties, and
Mr. Herbert G. Ponting was chosen as camera artist and cinematographer to
To my mind the outfit and preparations were the hardest part of our work,
for we were not assure of funds until the day of our departure. This did
not lighten Scott's burden. The plans of the British Antarctic Expedition
of 1910 were first published on September 13, 1909, but although Scott's
appeal to the nation was heartily endorsed by the Press, it was not until
the spring of 1910 that we had collected the first 10,000 pounds.
Personally, I was despatched to South Wales and the west of England to
raise funds from my Welsh and west country friends. Scott, himself, when
he could be spared from the Admiralty, worked Newcastle, Liverpool, and
the North, whilst both of us did what we could in London to obtain the
money necessary to purchase and equip the ship. It was an anxious time
for Scott and his supporters, but after the first 10,000 pounds had been
raised the Government grant of 20,000 pounds followed and the Expedition
came properly into being. Several individuals subscribed 1000 pounds
each, and Government grants were subsequently made by the Australian
Commonwealth, the Dominion of New Zealand and South Africa. Capt. L.E.G.
Oates and Mr. Apsley Cherry-Garrard were included in the donors of 1000
pounds, but they gave more than this, for these gallant gentlemen gave
their services and one of them his life. An unexpected and extremely
welcome contribution came from Mr. Samuel Hordern of Sydney in the shape
of 2500 pounds, at a time when we needed it most. Many firms gave in cash
as well as in kind. Indeed, were it not for the generosity of such firms
it is doubtful whether we could have started. The services of Paymaster
Lieut. Drake, R.N., were obtained as secretary to the Expedition. Offices
were taken and furnished in Victoria Street, S.W., and Sir Edgar Speyer
kindly consented to act as Honorary Treasurer--without hesitation I may
say we owe more to Sir Edgar than ever we can repay.
We were somewhat limited in our choice of a ship, suitable for the work
contemplated. The best vessel of all was of course the "Discovery," which
had been specially constructed for the National Antarctic Expedition in
1900, but she had been acquired by the Hudson Bay Company, and although
the late Lord Strathcona, then High Commissioner for Canada, was
approached, he could not see his way to obtaining her for us in view of
her important employment as supply ship for the Hudson Bay Trading
Stations. There remained the "Aurora," "Morning," "Bjorn," "Terra Nova,"
Shackleton's stout little "Nimrod," and one or two other old whaling
craft. The "Bjorn," a beautiful wooden whaler, would have served our
purpose excellently, but, alas! she was too small for the enterprise and
we had to fall back on the "Terra Nova," an older ship but a much larger
craft. The "Terra Nova" had one great defect--she was not economic in the
matter of coal consumption. She was the largest and strongest of the old
Scotch whalers, had proved herself in the Antarctic pack-ice and
acquitted herself magnificently in the Northern ice-fields in whaling and
sealing voyages extending over a period of twenty years. In spite of her
age she had considerable power for a vessel of that type.
After a preliminary survey in Newfoundland, which satisfied us as to her
seaworthiness in all respects, the "Terra Nova" was purchased for the
Expedition by Messrs. David Bruce & Sons for the sum of 12,500 pounds. It
seems a high price, but this meant nothing more than her being chartered
to us for 2000 pounds a year, since her owners were ready to pay a good
price for the ship if we returned her in reasonably good condition at the
conclusion of the Expedition.
Captain Scott handed her over to me to fit out, whilst he busied himself
more with the scientific programme and the question of finance. We had
her barque-rigged and altered according to the requirements of the
expedition. A large, well-insulated ice-house was erected on the upper
deck which held 150 cascases of frozen mutton, and, owing to the position
of the cold chamber, free as it was from the vicinity of iron, we mounted
here our standard compass and Lloyd Creek pedestal for magnetic work. Our
range-finder was also mounted on the ice-house. A new stove was put in
the galley, a lamp room and paraffin store built, and store-rooms,
instrument, and chronometer rooms were added. A tremendous alteration was
made in the living spaces both for officers and men. Twenty-four bunks
were fitted around the saloon accommodation, whilst for the seamen and
warrant officers hammock space or bunks were provided. It was proposed to
take six warrant officers, including carpenter, ice-master, boatswain,
and chief steward. Quite good laboratories were constructed on the poop,
while two large magazines and a clothing-store were built up between
decks, and these particular spaces were zinc-lined to keep them
damp-free. The ship required alteration rather than repair, and there
were only one or two places where timber had rotted and these were soon
found and reinforced.
I shall never forget the day I first visited the "Terra Nova" in the West
India Docks: she looked so small and out of place surrounded by great
liners and cargo-carrying ships, but I loved her from the day I saw her,
because she was my first command. Poor little ship, she looked so dirty
and uncared for and yet her name will be remembered for ever in the story
of the sea, which one can hardly say in the case of the stately liners
which dwarfed her in the docks. I often blushed when admirals came down
to see our ship, she was so very dirty. To begin with, her hold contained
large blubber tanks, the stench of whale oil and seal blubber being
overpowering, and the remarks of those who insisted on going all over the
ship need not be here set down. However, the blubber tanks were
withdrawn, the hold spaces got the thorough cleansing and whitewashing
that they so badly needed. The bilges were washed out, the ship
disinfected fore and aft, and a gang of men employed for some time to
sweeten her up. Then came the fitting out, which was much more pleasant
Scott originally intended to leave England with most of the members of
the Expedition on August 1, 1910, but he realised that an early start
from New Zealand would mean a better chance for the big depot-laying
journey he had planned to undertake before the first Antarctic winter set
in. Accordingly the sailing date was anticipated, thanks to the united
efforts of all concerned with the fitting out, and we made June 1 our day
of departure, which meant a good deal of overtime everywhere.
The ship had to be provisioned and stored for her long voyage, having in
view the fact that there were no ship-chandlers in the Polar regions, but
those of us who had "sailed the way before" had a slight inkling that we
might meet more ships, and _others_ who would lend us a helping hand in
the matter of Naval stores.
Captain Scott allowed me a sum with which to equip the "Terra Nova"; it
seemed little enough to me but it made quite a hole in our funds. There
were boatswain's stores to be purchased, wire hawsers, canvas for
sail-making, fireworks for signalling, whale boats and whaling gear,
flags, logs, paint, tar, carpenter's stores, blacksmith's outfit,
lubricating oils, engineer's stores, and a multitude of necessities to be
thought of, selected, and not paid for if we could help it. The verb "to
wangle" had not then appeared in the English language, so we just
The expedition had many friends, and it was not unusual to find Petty
Officers and men from the R.N.V.R. working on board and helping us on
Saturday afternoons and occasionally even on Sundays. They gave their
services for nothing, and the only way in which we could repay them was
to select two chief Petty Officers from their number, disrate them, and
take them Poleward as ordinary seamen.
It was not until the spring of 1910 that we could afford to engage any
officers or men for the ship, so that most of the work of rigging her was
done by dock-side workers under a good old master rigger named Malley.
Landsmen would have stared wide-eyed and open-mouthed at Malley's men
with their diminutive dolly-winch had they watched our new masts and
yards being got into place.
Six weeks before sailing day Lieut. Campbell took over the duties of
Chief Officer in the "Terra Nova," Pennell and Rennick also joined, and
Lieut. Bowers came home from the Indian Marine to begin his duties as
Stores Officer by falling down the main hatch on to the pig iron ballast.
I did not witness this accident, and when Campbell reported the matter I
am reported to have said, "What a silly ass!" This may have been true,
for coming all the way from Bombay to join us and then immediately
falling down the hatch did seem a bit careless. However, when Campbell
added that Bowers had not hurt himself my enthusiasm returned and I said,
"What a splendid fellow!" Bowers fell nineteen feet without injuring
himself in the slightest. This was only one of his narrow escapes and he
proved himself to be about the toughest man amongst us.
Quite a lot could be written of the volunteers for service with Scott in
this his last Antarctic venture. There were nearly 8000 of them to select
from, and many eligible men were turned down simply because they were
frozen out by those who had previous Antarctic experience. We tried to
select fairly, and certainly picked a representative crowd. It was not an
all-British Expedition because we included amongst us a young Norwegian
ski-runner and two Russians; a dog driver and a groom. The Norwegian has
since distinguished himself in the Royal Air Force--he was severely
wounded in the war whilst fighting for the British and their Allies, but
his pluck and Anglophile sentiments cost him his commission in the
Norwegian Flying Corps.
Dr. Wilson assisted Captain Scott in selecting the scientific staff,
while the choice of the officers and crew was mainly left to myself as
Commander-elect of the "Terra Nova."
Most Polar expeditions sail under the Burgee of some yacht club or other:
We were ambitious to fly the White Ensign, and to enable this to be done
the Royal Yacht Squadron adopted us. Scott was elected a member, and it
cost him 100 pounds, which the Expedition could ill afford. However, with
the "Terra Nova" registered as a yacht we were able to evade those Board
of Trade officials who declared that she was not a well-found merchant
ship within the meaning of the Act. Having avoided the scrutiny of the
efficient and official, we painted out our Plimsoll mark with tongue in
cheek and eyelid drooped, and, this done, took our stores aboard and
packed them pretty tight. The Crown Preserve Co. sent us a quantity of
patent fuel which stowed beautifully as a flooring to the lower hold, and
all our provision cases were thus kept well up out of the bilge water
which was bound to scend to and fro if we made any quantity of water, as
old wooden ships usually do. The day before sailing the Royal
Geographical Society entertained Scott and his party at luncheon in the
King's Hall, Holborn Restaurant. About 300 Fellows of the Society were
present to do us honour. The President, Major Leonard Darwin, proposed
success to the Expedition, and in the course of his speech wished us
God-speed. He congratulated Captain Scott on having such a well-found
expedition and, apart from dwelling on the scientific and geographical
side of the venture, the President said that Captain Scott was going to
prove once again that the manhood of our nation was not dead and that the
characteristics of our ancestors who won our great Empire still
flourished amongst us.
After our leader had replied to this speech Sir Clements Markham, father
of modern British exploration, proposed the toast of the officers and
staff in the most touching terms. Poor Sir Clements is no more, but it
was he who first selected Captain Scott for Polar work, and he, indeed,
who was responsible for many others than those present at lunch joining
Antarctic expeditions, myself included.
VOYAGE OF THE "TERRA NOVA"
Sailing day came at last, and on June 1, 1910, when I proudly showed
Scott his ship, he very kindly ordered the hands aft and thanked them for
what they had done.
The yards were square, the hatches on with spick-and-span white hatch
covers, a broad white ribbon brightened the black side, and gold leaf
bedizened the quarter badges besides gilding the rope scroll on the
stern. The ship had been well painted up, a neat harbour furl put on the
sails, and if the steamers and lofty sailing vessels in the basin could
have spoken, their message would surely have been, "Well done, little
What a change from the smudgy little lamp-black craft of last
November--so much for paint and polish. All the same it was the "Terra
Nova's" Indian summer. A close search by the technically expert would
have revealed scars of age in the little lady, furrows worn in her sides
by grinding ice floes, patches in the sails, strengthening pieces in the
cross-trees and sad-looking deadeyes and lanyards which plainly told of a
But the merchant seamen who watched from the dock side were kind and said
nothing. The old admirals who had come down to visit the ship were used
to these things, or perhaps they did not twig it. After all, what did it
matter, it was sailing day, we were all as proud as peacocks of our
little ship, and from that day forward we pulled together and played the
game, or tried to.
Lady Bridgeman, wife of the first Sea Lord, and Lady Markham hoisted the
White Ensign and the Burgee of the Royal Yacht Squadron an hour or so
before sailing. At 4.45 p.m. the visitors were warned off the ship, and a
quarter of an hour later we slipped from our wharf in the South-West
India Docks and proceeded into the river and thence to Greenhithe, where
we anchored off my old training ship, the "Worcester," and gave the
cadets a chance to look over the ship. On the 3rd June we arrived at
Spithead, where we were boarded by Captain Chetwynd, Superintendent of
Compasses at the Admiralty, who swung the ship and adjusted our
compasses. Captain Scott joined us on the 4th and paid a visit with his
"yacht" to the R.Y.S. at Cows. On the 6th we completed a series of
magnetic observations in the Solent, after which many officers were
entertained by Captain Mark Kerr in the ill-fated "Invincible." We were
royally looked after, but I am ashamed to say we cleared most of his
canvas and boatswain's stores out of the ship. Perhaps a new 3 1/2-inch
hawser found its way to the "Terra Nova"; anyway, if the "Invincible's"
stores came on board the exploring vessel she made good use of them and
saved them their Jutland fate. We left the Solent in high feather on the
The "Sea Horse" took us in tow to the Needles, from whence H.M.S.
"Cumberland," Cadets' Training Ship; towed us to Weymouth Bay. This was
poor Scott's last Naval review. He had landed at Portsmouth and busied
himself with the Expedition's affairs and rejoined us at Weymouth in time
to steam through the Home Fleet assembled in Portland Harbour. We steamed
out of the 'hole in the wall' at the western end of Portland Breakwater
and rounded Portland Bill at sunset on our way to Cardiff, where we were
to be received by my own Welsh friends and endowed with all good things.
We were welcomed by the citizens of the great Welsh seaport with
enthusiasm. Free docking, free coal, defects made good for nothing, an
office and staff placed at our disposal, in fact everything was done with
an open-hearted generosity. We took another 300 tons of patent fuel on
board and nearly 100 tons of Insole's best Welsh steaming coal, together
with the bulk of our lubricating oils. When complete with fuel we met
with our first setback, for the little ship settled deeply in the water
and the seams, which had up till now been well above the water-line,
leaked in a way that augured a gloomy future for the crew in the nature
of pumping. With steam up this did not mean anything much, but under sail
alone, unless we could locate the leaky seams, it meant half an hour to
an hour's pumping every watch. We found a very leaky spot in the fore
peak, which was mostly made good by cementing.
On the 15th June we left the United Kingdom after a rattling good time in
Cardiff. Many shore boats and small craft accompanied us down the Bristol
Channel as far as Breaksea Light Vessel. We hoisted the Cardiff flag at
the fore and the Welsh flag at the mizen--some wag pointed to the flag
and asked why we had not a leek under it, and I felt bound to reply that
we had a leak in the fore peak! It was a wonderful send-off and we
cheered ourselves hoarse. Captain Scott left with our most intimate
friends in the pilot boat and we proceeded a little sadly on our way.
After passing Lundy Island we experienced a head wind and the gentle
summer swell of the Atlantic. In spite of her deeply-laden condition the
"Terra Nova" breasted each wave in splendid form, lifting her toy
bowsprit proudly in the air till she reminded me, with her deck cargo, of
a little mother with her child upon her back.
Our first port of call was Madeira, where it was proposed to bunker, and
we made good passage to the island under steam and sail for the most
part. We stayed a couple of days coaling and taking magnetic observations
at Funchal, then ran out to the north-east Trades, let fires out, and
became a sailing ship.
Whilst lazily gazing at fertile Madeira from our anchorage we little
dreamt that within two months the distinguished Norseman, Roald Amundsen,
would be unfolding his plans to his companions on board the "Fram" in
this very anchorage, plans which changed the whole published object of
his expedition, plans which culminated in the triumph of the Norwegian
flag over our own little Union Jack, and plans which caused our people a
fearful disappointment--for Amundsen's ultimate success meant our failure
to achieve the main object of our Expedition: to plant the British Flag
first at the South Pole.
Under sail! Quite a number of the scientists and crew had never been to
sea in a sailing ship before, but a fair wind and a collection of keen
and smiling young men moving about the decks were particularly refreshing
to me after the year of fund collecting and preparation.
We learnt to know a great deal about one another on the outward voyage to
New Zealand, where we were to embark our dogs and ponies. The most
surprising personality was Bowers, considering all things.
Officers, scientists, and the watch worked side by side trimming coals
and restoring the 'tween decks as cases were shaken and equipment
assembled. The scientific staff were soon efficient at handling, reefing,
and steering. Every one lent a hand at whatever work was going. Victor
Campbell was christened the "Wicked Mate," and he shepherded and fathered
the afterguard delightfully.
Wilson and I shared the Captain's cabin, and when there was nothing afoot
he made lovely sea sketches and water colour drawings to keep his hand
in. Certainly Uncle Bill (Dr. Wilson's nickname) had copy enough in those
days of sunlit seas and glorious sunrises. He was up always an hour
before the sun and missed very little that was worth recording with his
artistic touch. Wilson took Cherry-Garrard under his wing and brought him
up as it were in the shadow of his own unselfish character. We had no
adventures to record until the last week in July beyond the catching of
flying-fish, singing chanties at the pump, and Lillie getting measles. We
isolated him in the dark room, which, despite its name, was one of the
lightest and freshest rooms in the ship. Atkinson took charge of the
patient and Lillie could not have been in the hands of a better or more
Not all of the members of the Expedition had embarked in England,
although the majority came out in the ship to save expense.
Captain Scott had remained behind to squeeze out more subscriptions and
to complete arrangements with the Central News, which he was making in
order to give the world's newspapers the story of the Expedition for
simultaneous publication as reports came back to civilisation in the
"Terra Nova." He also had finally to settle magazine and cinematograph
contracts which were to help pay for the Expedition, and lastly, our
leader, with Drake and Wyatt, the business manager, were to pay bills we
had incurred by countless items of equipment, large and small, which went
to fill up our lengthy stores lists. Thankless work enough--we in the
ship were much better off with no cares now beyond the handling of our
toy ship and her safe conduct to Lyttelton. Cecil Meares and Lieut. Bruce
were on their way through Siberia collecting dogs and ponies. Ponting was
purchasing the photographic and cinematographic outfit, Griffith Taylor,
Debenham, and Priestley, our three geologists, and Day, the motor
engineer, were to join us in New Zealand, and Captain Scott with Drake at
In order to get another series of magnetic observations and to give the
staff relief from the monotony of the voyage as well as an opportunity
for doing a little special work, we stopped at the uninhabited island of
South Trinidad for a couple of days, arriving on July 26.
Trinidad Island looked magnificent with its towering peaks as we
approached it by moonlight. We dropped anchor shortly after dawn, the
ship was handed over to the Wicked Mate and Boatswain, who set up the
rigging and delighted themselves with a seamanlike refit. Campbell had a
party over the side scrubbing the weeds off, and many of the ship's
company attempted to harpoon the small sharks which came close round in
shoals and provided considerable amusement. These fish were too small to
be dangerous. After breakfast all the scientists and most of the officers
landed and were organised by Uncle Bill into small parties to collect
birds' eggs, flowers, specimens, to photograph and to sketch. A good
lunch was taken ashore, and we looked more like a gunroom picnic party
than a scientific expedition when we left the ship in flannels and all
manner of weird costumes. Wilson, Pennell, and Cherry-Garrard shot a
number of birds, mostly terns and gannets, and climbed practically to the
top of the island, where they could see the Martin Vaz islets on the
horizon. Wilson secured some Trinidad petrels, both white breasted and
black breasted, and discovered that the former is the young bird and the
latter the adult of the same species. He found them in the same nests. We
collected many terns' eggs; the tern has no nest but lays its eggs on a
smooth rock. Also one or two frigate birds were caught. Nelson worked
along the beach, finding sea-urchins, anemones, and worms, which he
taught the sailors the names of--polycheats and sepunculids, I think he
called them. He caught various fishes, including sea-perches, garfish,
coralfish, and an eel, a small octopus and a quantity of sponges.
Trigger-fish were so abundant that many of them were speared from the
ship with the greatest of ease, and Rennick harpooned a couple from a
boat with an ordinary dinner fork. Lillie, who had recovered from
measles, was all about, and his party went for flowering plants and
lichens. He climbed to the summit of the island--2000 ft.--and gave it as
his opinion that the dead trees strewn all round the base of the island
had been carried down with the volcanic debris from higher altitudes. It
was also his suggestion that the island had only recently risen, the
trees which originally grew on the top of the island having died from
unsuitable climate in the higher condition. Gran went up with Lillie and
took photographs. "Birdie" Bowers and Wright were employed collecting
insects, and, with those added by the rest of us, the day's collection
included all kinds of ants, cockroaches, grasshoppers, mayflies, a
centipede, fifteen different species of spider, locusts, a cricket,
woodlice, a parasite fly, a beetle, and a moth. We failed to get any of
the dragonflies seen, and, to the great sorrow of the crews who landed
with us, missed capturing a most beautiful chestnut-coloured mouse with a
fur tail. Land crabs, a dirty yellow in colour, were found everywhere,
the farther one went inland the bigger were the crabs. The blue shore
crabs were only to be seen near the sea or along the coast and water
courses. Several of these were brought off to the ship for Dr. Atkinson
to play with, and he found nematodes in them, and parasites in the birds
During the afternoon a swell began to roll in the bay and those on board
the ship hoisted the warning signal and fired a sound rocket to recall
the scattered parties. By 4.30 we had reassembled on the rocks where we
had landed in the forenoon, but the rollers being fifteen feet high, it
was obviously unwise to send off cameras and perishable gear, and since
it was equally inadvisable to leave the whole party ashore without food
and sufficient clothing and the prospect of an inhospitable island home
for days, we all swam off one by one, the boat's crew working a grassline
bent to a lifebuoy. The boat to which we swam was riding to a big anchor
a hundred feet from the shore, just outside the surf. There were a few
sharks round the whaler, but they were shy and left us alone. Rennick
worked round the boat in a small Norwegian pram and scared them away.
Many trigger fish swallowed the thick vegetable oil which the boat's crew
ladled into the sea to keep the surf down, and I think this probably
attracted the sharks, though it was not very nice to swim through. None
of us were any the worse for our romp ashore, but the long day and the
hot sun tired us all out. Nearly all the afterguard slept on the upper
deck that night, and, but for the dismal roar of the swell breaking on
the rocks and the heavy rolling of the "Terra Nova," we spent quite a
comfortable night. Dr. Atkinson and Brewster had been left ashore with
the gear, but they got no sleep because all night the terns flew round
crying and protesting against their intrusion. The wail of these birds
sounds like the deep note of a banjo. The two men mostly feared the land
crabs, but to their surprise they were left in peace.
Next day about 9 a.m. I went in with Rennick, Bowers, Oates, Gran, and
two seamen to the landing place, taking a whaler and pram equipped with
grass hawser, breeches buoy, rocket line, and everything necessary to
bring off the gear. We had a rough time getting the stuff away undamaged
by the sea, but the pram was a wonderful sea-boat and we took it in turns
to work her through the surf until everything was away.
At the last, when nearly everything had been salved and got to the
whaler, the collections in tin boxes, wooden cases and baskets, and the
two men, Atkinson and Brewster, were on board, a large wave threw the
pram right up on the rocks, capsizing her and damaging her badly. Her two
occupants jumped out just before a second wave swept the boat over and
over. Then a third huge roller came up and washed the pram out to sea,
where she was recovered by means of a grapnel thrown from the whaler. The
two on the rocks had to face the surf again but were good swimmers, and
with their recovery our little adventure ended. It was a pity we had bad
weather, because I intended to give the crew a run on the island when
Campbell had finished with them.
We remained another day under the lee of Trinidad Island owing to a hard
blow from the south-east--a dead head wind for us--because I felt it
would be useless to put to sea and punch into it. We were anchored one
mile S. 4 degrees E (magnetic) from the Ninepin Rock, well sheltered from
the prevailing wind. We left Trinidad at noon on the 28th, well prepared
for the bad weather expected on approaching the Cape of Good Hope.
Whilst clearing the land we had an excellent view of South West Bay and
saw a fine lot of rollers breaking on the beach. I was glad we kept there
that day, as, in my opinion, our anchorage was really the only fair one
off the island. By noon on the 29th we had left South Trinidad out of
sight, the wind had freshened again and we could almost lay our course
under sail for the Cape. This next stage of the voyage was merely a story
of hard winds and heavy rolls. The ship leaked less as she used up the
coal and patent fuel. All the same we spent many hours at the pump, but,
since much of the pumping was done by the afterguard--as were called the
officers and scientists we developed and hardened our muscles finely. In
the daytime the afterguard were never idle; there is always plenty to do
in a sailing ship, and when not attending to their special duties the
scientists were kept working at everything that helped the show along.
Whilst on deck they were strictly disciplined and subordinate and
respectful to the ship's executive officers, while in the wardroom they
fought these same officers in a friendly way for every harsh word and
every job they had had imposed on them.
Campbell was a fine seaman; he was respected and admired by such people
as Oates and Atkinson, who willingly pocketed their pride and allowed
themselves to be hustled round equally with the youngest seaman on board.
The Wicked Mate generally had all the afterguard under the hose before
breakfast, as washing water was scarce and the allowance meagre on such a
In the hotter weather we nearly all slept on deck, the space on top of
the ice-house and in the boats being favourite billets. There was no
privacy in the ship and only the officers of watches and lookout men were
ever left with their thoughts. One or two of the younger members
confessed to being home-sick, for the voyage was long and it was not at
all certain that we should all win back to "England, home, and beauty."
Those who were not sailor men soon acquired the habit of the sea, growing
accustomed to meeting fair and foul weather with an equally good face,
rejoicing with us sailor men at a fair wind and full sail and standing by
top-gallant and topsail halyards when the prospects were more leaden
coloured and the barometer falling. We numbered about forty now, which
meant heaps of beef to haul on ropes and plenty of trimmers to shift the
coal from the hold to the bunkers. One or two were always stoking side by
side with the firemen, and in this fashion officers, seamen, and
scientific staff cemented a greater friendship and respect for one
On August 7, after drinking to absent friends, Oates, Atkinson, and Gran,
"the three midshipmen" were confirmed in their rank and a ship's biscuit
broken on the head of each in accordance with gunroom practice, and after
this day, during good and bad weather, these three kept regular watch
with the seamen, going aloft, steering, and taking all the usual duties
in their turn.
From the start Pennell, who was to relieve me in command of the ship on
her arrival at the Antarctic base, showed an astounding knowledge of
birds, and Wilson took the keenest interest in teaching him about
bird-life in the Great Southern ocean and giving him a preliminary idea
of the bird types to be met with in Antarctica.
Reflecting back to these days one sees how well we all knitted into the
places we were to fill, because a long sea-voyage searches out hidden
qualities and defects, not that there were many of the latter, still one
man developed lung trouble and another had a strained heart. One of
these, to our great regret, was forced to leave the expedition before the
ship went south, while the other had to be ruled out of the shore
party--an awful disappointment to them both.
We reached Simon's Town on August 15, and here the Naval authorities gave
us every assistance, lent us working parties and made good our long
defect list. We were disappointed on arriving to find that Captain Scott
was away in Pretoria, but he succeeded in obtaining a grant of 500 pounds
from the South African Government and raised another 500 pounds by
private subscription. When Captain Scott came amongst us again he wrote
of the "Terra Nova" party that we were all very pleased with the ship and
very pleased with ourselves, describing our state of happiness and
overflowing enthusiasm exactly.
Those who could be spared were given leave here; some of us went
up-country for a few days and had a chance to enjoy South African
scenery. Oates, Atkinson, and Bowers went to Wynberg and temporarily
forgot the sea. Oates's one idea was a horse, and he spent his holiday as
much on horse-back as he possibly could. In a letter he expressed great
admiration for the plucky manner in which Atkinson rode to hounds one day
at Wynberg. These two were great friends, but it would be hard to imagine
two more naturally silent men, and one wonders how evident pleasure can
be obtained with a speechless companion.
Scott now changed with Wilson, who went by mail steamer to Australia in
order to organise and finally engage the Australian members of our staff.
Our leader was without doubt delighted to make the longer voyage with us
in the "Terra Nova" and to get away from the hum of commerce and the
small talk of the many people who were pleased to meet him--until the hat
was handed round--that awful fund-collecting.
ASSEMBLING OF UNITS--DEPARTURE FROM NEW ZEALAND
The trip from Simon's Town to Melbourne was disappointing on account of
the absence of fair winds. We had a few gales, but finer weather than we
expected, and took advantage of the ship's steadiness to work out the
details for the sledge journeys and depot plans. The lists of those who
were to form the two shore parties were published, together with a
skeleton list for the ship. The seamen had still to be engaged in New
Zealand to complete this party.
A programme was drawn up for work on arrival at winter quarters, a
routine made out for McMurdo Sound or Cape Crozier, if it so happened
that we could effect a landing there, weights were calculated for the
four men sledging-units, sledge tables embellished with equipment
weights, weekly allowances of food and fuel, with measures of quantities
of each article in pannikins or spoonfuls, provisional dates were set
down in the general plan, daily ration lists constructed, the first
season's depot party chosen and, in short, a thoroughly comprehensive
hand-book was made out for our guidance which could be referred to by any
member of the Expedition. Even an interior plan of the huts was made to
scale for the carpenter's edification.
It was an enormous advantage for us to have our leader with us now, his
master mind foresaw every situation so wonderfully as he unravelled plan
after plan and organised our future procedure.
Meantime, the seamen were employed preparing the sledge gear, sewing up
food bags, making canvas tanks and sledge harness, fitting out Alpine
ropes; repair bags, thongs, lampwick bindings, and travelling equipment
generally. Gran overlooked the ski and assigned them to their future
owners, Petty Officer Evans prepared the sewing outfits for the two shore
parties, the cooks assembled messtraps and cooking utensils, and Levick
and Atkinson, under Dr. Wilson's guidance, assembled the medical
equipment and fixed up little surgical outfits for sledge parties. By the
time we arrived at Melbourne, our next port of call, a great deal had
been accomplished and people had a grasp of what was eventually expected
Scott left us again at Melbourne and embarked on yet another begging
campaign, whilst I took the ship on to Lyttelton, where the "Terra Nova"
was dry-docked with a view to stopping the leak in her bows. The decks,
which after her long voyage let water through sadly, were caulked, and
barnacles six inches long were taken from her bottom and sides. Whilst in
New Zealand all the stores were landed, sorted out and restowed. On a
piece of waste ground close to the wharves at Lyttelton the huts were
erected in skeleton in order to make certain that no hitch would occur
when they were put up at our Antarctic base. Davis, the carpenter, with
the seamen told off to assist him, marked each frame and joist, the
tongued and grooved boards were roughly cut to measure and tied into
bundles ready for sledge transport in case it happened that we could not
put the ship close to the winter quarters. Instruments were adjusted, the
ice-house re-insulated and prepared to receive the 150 frozen sheep and
ten bullocks which were presented to us by New Zealand farmers. Stables
were erected under the forecastle and on the upper deck of the "Terra
Nova," ready for the reception of our ponies, and a thousand and one
alterations and improvements made. The ship was restowed, and all fancy
gear, light sails and personal baggage put ashore. We took on board 464
tons of coal and embarked the three motor sledges, petrol, and paraffin.
We spent four weeks in Port Lyttelton, four weeks of hard work and
perfect happiness. Our prospects looked very rosy in those days, and as
each new member joined the Expedition here he was cordially welcomed into
the "Terra Nova" family.
Mr. J. J. Kinsey acted as agent to the Expedition, as he had done for the
National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-4, and, indeed, for every Polar
enterprise that has used New Zealand for a base.
New Zealanders showed us unbounded hospitality; many of us had visited
their shores before and stronger ties than those of friendship bound us
to this beautiful country.
When we came to Lyttelton, Meares and Bruce had already arrived with
nineteen Siberian and Manchurian ponies and thirty-four sledge dogs, and
these were now housed at Quail Island in the harbour. All the ponies were
white, animals of this colour being accepted as harder than others for
snow work, and the dogs were as fine a pack as one could select for hard
sledging and rough times. Meares had had adventure in plenty when
selecting the dogs and told us modestly enough of his journeys across
Russia and Siberia in search of suitable animals. Scott was lucky to get
hold of such an experienced traveller as Meares, and the "Terra Nova"
gained by the inclusion of Lady Scott's brother, Wilfred Bruce, in the
Expedition. Wilfred Bruce was christened "Mumbo," and, although a little
older than the rest of the officers, he willingly took a subordinate
place, and Pennell, writing of him after the Expedition was finished,
said that he withheld his advice when it was not asked for and gave it
soundly when it was.
Lieut. Bruce joined Meares at Vladivostock, and he must have thought he
was joining a travelling circus when he ran into this outfit. Meares
crossed by Trans-Siberian Railway to Vladivostock, thence made
preparation to travel round the Sea of Okotsk to collect the necessary
dogs. He started off by train to Kharbarovsk, where he got in touch with
the Governor-General of Eastern Siberia, General Unterberger, who helped
him immensely, got him a good travelling sledge for the trip down the
Amur River to Nikolievsk, and wrote a letter which he gave Meares to show
at the post-houses and whenever in difficulties. The Governor-General
ordered frozen food to be got ready for Meares's journey. A thousand
versts (roughly 660 miles) had to be traversed, and this only took seven
days; the going was interesting at times, and Meares had good weather on
the sledge journey to Nikolievsk, although the cold was intense and
sometimes the road was very bad. The sledges were horse-drawn between the
Mr. Rogers, the English manager of the Russo-Chinese Bank of Nikolievsk,
helped Meares considerably in securing the dogs. Most of them were picked
up in the neighbourhood of that place, but were not chosen before they
had been given some hard driving tests. In one of the trial journeys the
dogs pulled down a horse and nearly killed it before they could be beaten
off. Some of them have a good deal of the wolf in their blood.
A settlement of "fish-skin" Indians was visited in the dog search, and
Meares told us of natives who dressed in cured skins of salmons. These
people were expert hunters who trekked weeks on end with just a pack of
food on their backs, their travelling being done on snowshoes.
After taking great pains, thirty-four fine dogs were collected, all used
to hard sledge travelling, and these Meares shipped on board steamer
which took him and his menagerie by river to Kharbarovsk. The journey to
Vladivostock was by train. The Russian officials allowed him to hitch on
a couple of cattle trucks containing the dogs to the mail train for that
part of the journey.
Russian soldiers and Chinamen were detailed by the Governor-General to
assist the procession through the streets of Vladivostock to their
kennels here. A slight upset was caused by a mad dog rushing in amongst
them, but fortunately it was killed before any of our dogs were bitten.
Some of them were flecked by the foam from the mad dog's jaws, but none
were any the worse after a good carbolic bath. After the dogs were
settled and in good shape the ponies were collected and brought from
up-country in batches. On arrival at the Siberian capital they were
examined by the Government vet., after which Meares and an Australian
trainer picked the best, until a score were purchased. Horse boxes were
obtained now and feed tins made for the voyage and, after minor troubles
with shipping firms, Meares, Bruce, and three Russians sailed from
Vladivostock in a Japanese steamer which conveyed them to Kobe. Here they
transhipped into a German vessel that took then via Hong-kong, Manila,
New Guinea, Rockhampton, and Brisbane, to Sydney. There the animals were
inoculated for the N'th time and a good deal of palaver indulged in
before they were again shifted to the Lyttelton steamer. The poor beasts
suffered from the heat, particularly the dogs, although they had been
close-clipped for the long and trying voyage.
At Wellington, New Zealand, Meares was compelled to trans-ship the
animals to yet another steamer. When the travelling circus was safely
installed in Quail Island our dogs and ponies had undergone shipments,
trans-shipments, inoculations and disinfectings sufficient to make them
glad to leave civilisation, and we had to thank Meares for his patience
in getting them down without any losses.
We sailed from Lyttelton on November 25 for Port Chalmers, had a
tremendous send-off and a great deal of cheering as the ship moved slowly
away from the piers. Bands played us out of harbour and most of the ships
flew farewell messages, which we did our best to answer.
Some members went down by train to Dunedin and joined us at Port
Chalmers. We filled up here with what coal we could squeeze into our
already overloaded ship and left finally for the Great Unknown on
November 29, 1910.
Lady Scott, Mrs. Wilson, and my own wife came out with us to the Heads
and then went on board the "Plucky" tug after saying good-bye. We were
given a rousing send-off by the small craft that accompanied us a few
miles on our way, but they turned homeward at last and at 3.30 p.m. we
were clear with all good-byes said--personally I had a heart like lead,
but, with every one else on board, bent on doing my duty and following
Captain Scott to the end. There was work to be done, however, and the
crew were glad of the orders that sent them from one rope to another and
gave them the chance to hide their feelings, for there is an awful
feeling of loneliness at this point in the lives of those who sign on the
ships of the "South Pole trade"--how glad we were to hide those feelings
and make sail--there were some dreadfully flat jokes made with the best
of good intentions when we watched dear New Zealand fading away as the
spring night gently obscured her from our view.
THROUGH STORMY SEAS
After all it was a relief to get going at last and to have the Expedition
on board in its entirety, but what a funny little colony of souls. A
floating farm-yard best describes the appearance of the upper deck, with
the white pony heads peeping out of their stables, dogs chained to
stanchions, rails, and ring-bolts, pet rabbits lolloping around the ready
supply of compressed hay, and forage here, there, and everywhere. If the
"Terra Nova" was deeply laden from Cardiff, imagine what she looked like
leaving New Zealand. We had piled coal in sacks wherever it could be
wedged in between the deck cargo of petrol. Paraffin and oil drums filled
up most of the hatch spaces, for the poop had been rendered uninhabitable
by the great wooden cases containing two of our motor sledges.
The seamen were excellent, and Captain Scott seemed delighted with the
crowd. He and Wilson were very loyal to the old "Discovery" men we had
with us and Scott was impressed with my man, Cheetham, the Merchant
Service boatswain, and could not quite make out how "Alf," as the sailors
called him, got so much out of the hands--this little squeaky-voiced
man--I think we hit on Utopian conditions for working the ship. There
were no wasters, and our seamen were the pick of the British Navy and
Mercantile Marine. Most of the Naval men were intelligent petty officers
and were as fully alive as the merchantmen to "Alf's" windjammer
knowledge. Cheetham was quite a character, and besides being immensely
popular and loyal he was a tough, humorous little soul who had made more
Antarctic voyages than any man on board.
The seamen and stokers willingly gave up the best part of the crew space
in order to allow sheltered pony stables to be built in the forecastle;
it would have fared badly with the poor creatures had we kept them out on
deck on the southward voyage.
A visit to the Campbell Islands was projected, but abandoned on account
of the ship being unable to lay her course due to strong head winds on
December 1. We therefore shaped to cross the Antarctic Circle in 178
degrees W. and got a good run of nearly 200 miles in, but the wind rose
that afternoon and a gale commenced at a time when we least could afford
to face bad weather in our deeply-laden conditions. By 6 p.m. I had to
heave the ship to under lower topsails and fore topmast staysail. Engines
were kept going at slow speed to keep the ship under control, but when
night fell the prospect was gloomy enough. Captain Scott had consented to
my taking far more on board than the ship was ever meant to carry, and we
could not expect to accomplish our end without running certain risks. To
sacrifice coal meant curtailing the Antarctic cruising programme, but as
the weather grew worse we had to consider throwing coal overboard to
lighten the vessel. Quite apart from this, the huge waves which washed
over the ship swamped everything and increased the deck weights
considerably. Ten tons of coal were thrown over to prevent them from
taking charge and breaking petrol cases adrift. In spite of a liberal use
of oil to keep heavy water from breaking over, the decks were continually
swept by the seas and the rolling was so terrific that the poor dogs were
almost hanging by their chains. Meares and Dimitri, helped by the watch,
tended them unceasingly, but in spite of their combined efforts one dog
was washed overboard after being literally drowned on the upper deck. One
pony died that night, Oates and Atkinson standing by it and trying their
utmost to keep the wretched beast on its feet. A second animal succumbed
later, and poor Oates had a most trying time in caring for his charges
and rendering what help he could to ameliorate their condition. Those of
his ship-mates who saw him in this gale will never forget his strong,
brown face illuminated by a hanging lamp as he stood amongst those
suffering little beasts. He was a fine, powerful man, and on occasions he
seemed to be actually lifting the poor little ponies to their feet as the
ship lurched heavily to leeward and a great sea would wash the legs of
his charges from under them. One felt somehow, glancing into the ponies'
stalls, which Captain Scott and I frequently visited together, that
Oates's very strength itself inspired his animals with confidence. He
himself appeared quite unconscious of any personal suffering, although
his hands and feet must have been absolutely numbed by the cold and wet.
In the middle watch Williams, the Chief Engineer, reported that his pumps
were choked and that as fast as he cleared them they choked again, the
water coming into the ship so fast that the stoke-hold plates were
submerged and water gaining fast. I ordered the watch to man the
hand-pump, but that was soon choked too. Things now looked really
serious, since it was impossible to get to the pump-well while terrific
seas were washing over the ship and the afterhatch could not be opened.
Consequently we started to bail the water out with buckets and also
rigged the small fire-engine and pumped with this as well.
The water in the engine room gradually gained until it entered the ashpit
of the centre furnace and commenced to put the fires out. Both Williams
and Lashly were up to their necks in water, clearing and re-clearing the
engine room pump suctions, but eventually the water beat them and I
allowed Williams to let fires out in the boiler. It could not be
otherwise. We stopped engines, and with our cases of petrol being lifted
out of their lashings by the huge waves, with the ponies falling about
and the dogs choking and wallowing in the water and mess, their chains
entangling them and tripping up those who tried to clear them, the
situation looked as black and disheartening as it well could be.
When dawn broke the greater part of the lee bulwarks had been torn away
and our decks laid open to the sea, which washed in and out as it would
have over a rock. The poor ship laboured dreadfully, and after
consultation with Captain Scott we commenced to cut a hole in the engine
room bulkhead to get at the hand pump-well.
Meanwhile I told the afterguard off into watches, and, relieving every
two hours, they set to work, formed a chain at the engine room ladder way
and bailed the ship out with buckets. In this way they must have
discharged between 2000 and 3000 gallons of water. The watch manned the
hand pump, which, although choked, discharged a small stream, and for
twenty-four hours this game was kept up, Scott himself working with the
best of them and staying with the toughest.
It was a sight that one could never forget: everybody saturated, some
waist-deep on the floor of the engine room, oil and coal dust mixing with
the water and making every one filthy, some men clinging to the iron
ladder way and passing full buckets up long after their muscles had
ceased to work naturally, their grit and spirit keeping them going. I did
admire the weaker people, especially those who were unhardened by the
months of physical training of the voyage out from England.
When each two-hour shift was relieved, the party, coughing and
spluttering, would make their way into the ward-room where Hooper and
Neale, the stewards, mere boys, supplied them with steaming cocoa. How on
earth the cooks kept the galley fires going I could never understand:
they not only did this, but fed us all at frequent intervals.
By 10 p.m. on the 2nd December the hole in the engine room bulkhead was
cut completely. I climbed through it, followed by Bowers, the carpenter,
and Teddy Nelson, and when we got into the hold there was just enough
room to wriggle along to the pump-well over the coal. We tore down a
couple of planks to get access to the shaft and then I went down to the
bottom to find out how matters stood. Bowers came next with an electric
torch, which he shone downwards whilst I got into the water, hanging on
to the bottom rungs of the ladder leading to the bilge. Sitting on the
keel the water came up to my neck and, except for my head, I was under
water till after midnight passing up coal balls, the cause of all the
trouble. Though, of course, we had washed out the bilges in New Zealand,
the constant stream of water which leaked in from the topsides had
carried much coal-dust into them. This, mixed with the lubricating oil
washed down from the engines, had cemented into buns and balls which
found their way down and choked both hand and engine pump suctions. I
sent up twenty bucketfuls of this filthy stuff, which meant frequently
going head under the unspeakably dirty water, but having cleared the
lower ends of the suction pipe the watch manning the hand pump got the
water down six inches, and it was obvious by 4 o'clock in the morning
that the pump was gaining. We therefore knocked the afterguard off
bailing, and the seamen worked steadily at the pump until 9 a.m. and got
the water right down to nine inches, so we were able to light fires again
and once more raise steam. We made a serviceable wire grating to put
round the hand pump suction to keep the bigger stuff from choking the
pipes in future. It was days before some of us could get our hair clean
from that filthy coal-oil mixture.
One more pony died during the gale, but when the weather moderated early
on the 3rd, the remaining seventeen animals bucked up and, when not
eating their food, nonchalantly gnawed great gaps in the stout planks
forming the head parts of their stalls. At last the sun came out and
helped to dry the dogs. Campbell and his seamen cleared up the decks and
re-secured the top hamper in the forenoon, we reset sail, and after tea
Scott, Oates, Atkinson, and a few more of us hoisted the two dead ponies
out of the forecastle, through the skylight, and over the side. It was a
dirty job, because the square of the hatch was so small that a powerful
purchase had to be used which stretched out the ponies like dead rabbits.
We only made good twenty-three miles that day and, although the gale had
abated, it left us a legacy in the shape of a heavy uncomfortable swell.
Most of the bunks were in a sad state, the ship having worked so badly
that the upper deck seams opened everywhere and water had literally
poured into them.
Looking at the fellows' faces in the ward-room at dinner that night there
was no trace of anxiety, worry, or fatigue to be seen. We drank to
sweet-hearts and wives, it being Saturday evening, and those who had no
watch were glad to turn in early.
More fresh wind next day but finer weather to follow. Gran declared he
saw an iceberg on the 5th December, but it turned out to be a whale
spouting. Our runs were nothing to boast of, 150 miles being well above
the average, but the lengthening days told us that we were rapidly
changing our latitude and approaching the ice.
ANTARCTICA--THROUGH THE PACK ICE TO LAND
We sighted our first iceberg in latitude 62 degrees on the evening of
Wednesday, December 7. Cheetham's squeaky hail came down from aloft and I
went up to the crow's-nest to look at it, and from this time on we passed
all kinds of icebergs, from the huge tabular variety to the little
weathered water-worn bergs. Some we steamed quite close to and they
seemed for all the world like great masses of sugar floating in the sea.
From latitudes 60 to 63 degrees we saw a fair number of birds: southern
fulmars, whale birds, molly-mawks, sooty albatrosses, and occasionally
Cape-pigeons still. Then the brown-backed petrels began to appear, sure
precursors of the pack ice--it was in sight right enough the day after
the brown-backs were seen. By breakfast time on December 9, when nearly
in latitude 65 degrees, we were steaming through thin streams of broken
pack with floes from six to twelve feet across. A few penguins and seals
were seen, and by 10 a.m. no less than twenty-seven icebergs in sight.
The newcomers to these regions were clustered in little groups on the
forecastle and poop sketching and painting, hanging over the bows and
gleefully watching this lighter stuff being brushed aside by our strong
We were passing through pack all day, but the ice hereabouts was not
close enough nor heavy enough to stop us appreciably. The ship was
usually conned by Pennell and myself from the crow's-nest, and I took the
ship very near one berg for Ponting to cinematograph it. We now began to
see snow petrels with black beaks and pure white bodies, rather
resembling doves. Also we saw great numbers of brown-backed petrels the
first day in the pack, whole flights of them resting on the icebergs. The
sun was just below the horizon at midnight and we had a most glorious
sunset, which was first a blazing copper changing to salmon pink and then
purple. The pools of water between the floes caught the reflection, the
sea was perfectly still and every berg and ice-floe caught something of
the delicate colour. Wilson, of course, was up and about till long after
midnight sketching and painting. The Antarctic pack ice lends itself to
water-colour work far better than to oils.
When conning the ship from up in the crow's-nest one has a glorious view
of this great changing ice-field. Moving through lanes of clear blue
water, cannoning into this floe and splitting it with iron-bound stem,
overriding that and gnawing off a twenty ton lump, gliding south, east,
west, through leads of open water, then charging an innocent-looking
piece which brings the ship up all-standing, astern and ahead again,
screwing and working the wonderful wooden ship steadily southward until
perhaps two huge floes gradually narrow the lane and hold the little lady
fast in their frozen grip.
This is the time to wait and have a look round: on one side floes the
size of a football field, all jammed together, with their torn up edges
showing their limits and where the pressure is taken. Then three or four
bergs, carved from the distant Barrier, imprisoned a mile or so away,
with the evening sun's soft rays casting beautiful shadows about them and
kissing their glistening cliff faces.
Glancing down from the crow's-nest the ship throws deep shadows over the
ice and, while the sun is just below the southern horizon, the still
pools of water show delicate blues and greens that no artist can ever do
justice to. It is a scene from fairyland.
I loved this part of the voyage, for I was in my element. At odd times
during the night, if one can call it night, the crow's-nest would have
visitors, and hot cocoa would be sent up in covered pots by means of
signal halyards. The pack ice was new to all the ship's officers except
myself, but they soon got into the way of conning and working through
open water leads and, as time went on, distinguished the thinner ice from
the harder and more dangerous stuff.
On December 10 we stopped the ship and secured her to a heavy floe from
which we took in sufficient ice to make eight tons of fresh water, and
whilst doing this Rennick sounded and obtained bottom in 1964 fathoms,
fora-minifera and decomposed skeleton unicellular organs, also two pieces
of black basic lava. Lillie and Nelson took plankton and water bottle
samples to about 280 fathoms. A few penguins came round and a good many
crab-eater seals were seen. In the afternoon we got under way again and
worked for about eight miles through the pack, which was gradually
becoming denser. About 2:30 p.m. I saw from the crow's-nest four seals on
a floe. I slid down a backstay, and whilst the officer on watch worked
the ship close to them, I got two or three others with all our firearms
and shot the lot from the forecastle head. We had seal liver for dinner
that night; one or two rather turned up their noses at it, but, as Scott
pointed out, the time would come when seal liver would be a delicacy to
Campbell did not do much conning except in the early morning, as his
executive duties kept him well occupied. The Polar sledge journey had its
attractions, but Campbell's party were to have interesting work and were
envied by many on board. For reasons which need not here be entered into
Campbell had to abandon the King Edward VII. Land programme, but in these
days his mob were known as the Eastern Party, to consist of the Wicked
Mate, Levick, and Priestley, with three seamen, Abbott, Browning, and
Dickason. Campbell had the face of an angel and the heart of a hornet.
With the most refined and innocent smile he would come up to me and ask
whether the Eastern Party could have a small amount of this or that
luxury. Of course I would agree, and sure enough Bowers would tell me
that Campbell had already appropriated a far greater share than he was
ever entitled to of the commodity in question. This happened again and
again, but the refined smile was irresistible and I am bound to say the
Wicked Mate generally got away with it, for even Bowers, the
incomparable, was bowled over by that smile.
We crossed the Antarctic Circle on the morning of the 10th, little
dreaming in those happy days that the finest amongst us would never
recross it again.
We took a number of deep-sea soundings, several of over 2000 fathoms, on
this first southward voyage. Rennick showed himself very expert with the
deep-sea gear and got his soundings far more easily than we had done in
the "Discovery" and "Morning" days.
We were rather unfortunate as regards the pack ice met with, and must
have passed through 400 miles of it from north to south. On my two
previous voyages we had had easier conditions altogether, and then it had
not mattered, but all with these dogs and ponies cooped up and losing
condition, with the "Terra Nova" eating coal and sixty hungry men
scoffing enormous meals, we did not seem to be doing much or getting on
with the show. It was, of course, nobody's fault, but our patience was
We made frequent stops in the pack ice, even letting fires out and
furling sail, and sometimes the ice would be all jammed up so that not a
water hole was visible--this condition would continue for days. Then, for
no apparent reason, leads would appear and black water-skies would tempt
us to raise steam again. Scott himself showed an admirable patience, for
the rest of us had something to occupy our time with. Pennell and I, for
instance, were constantly taking sights and working them out to find our
position and also to get the set and drift of the current. Then there
were magnetic observations to be taken on board and out on the ice away
from the magnetic influence of the ship, such as it was. Simpson had
heaps to busy himself with, and Ponting was here, there, and everywhere
with his camera and cinematograph machine. Had it not been for our
anxiety to make southward progress, the time would have passed pleasantly
enough, especially in fine weather. Days came when we could get out on
the floe and exercise on ski, and Gran zealously looked to all our
requirements in this direction.
December 11 witnessed the extraordinary sight of our company standing
bareheaded on deck whilst Captain Scott performed Divine Service. Two
hymns were sung, which broke strangely the great white silence. The
weather was against us this day in that we had snow, thaw, and actually
rain, but we could not complain on the score of weather conditions
generally. Practically all the ship's company exercised on the floes
while we remained fast frozen. Next day there was some slight loosening
of the pack and we tried sailing through it and managed half a degree
southward in the forty-eight hours. We got along a few miles here and
there, but when ice conditions continued favourable for making any
serious advance it was better to light up and push our way onward with
all the power we could command. We got some heavy bumps on the 13th
December and as this hammering was not doing the ship much good, since I
was unable to make southing then at a greater rate than one mile an hour,
we let fires right out and prepared, as Captain Scott said, "To wait till
the clouds roll by." For the next few days there was not much doing nor
did we experience such pleasant weather.
Constant visits were made to the crow's-nest in search of a way through.
December 16 and 17 were two very gray days with fresh wind, snow, and
some sleet. Affectionate memories of Captain Colbeck and the little
relief ship, "Morning," came back when the wind soughed and whistled
through the rigging: This sound is most uncanny and the ice always seemed
to exaggerate any noise.
I hated the overcast days in the pack. It was bitterly cold in the
crow's-nest however much one put on then, and water skies often turned
out to be nimbus clouds after we had laboured and cannoned towards them.
The light, too, tired and strained one's eyes far more than on clear
When two hundred miles into the pack the ice varied surprisingly. We
would be passing through ice a few inches thick and then suddenly great
floes four feet above the water and twelve to fifteen feet deep would be
encountered. December 18 saw us steaming through tremendous leads of open
water. A very funny occurrence was witnessed in the evening when the wash
of the ship turned a floe over under water and on its floating back a
fish was left stranded. It was a funny little creature, nine inches in
length, a species of notathenia. Several snow petrels and a skua-gull
made attempts to secure the fish, but the afterguard kept up such a
chorus of cheers, hoots and howls that the birds were scared away till
one of us secured the fish from the floe.
Early on the 19th we passed close to a large iceberg which had a shelving
beach like an island. We began to make better progress to the
south-westward and worked into a series of open leads. We came across our
first emperor penguin, a young one, and two sea-leopards, besides
crab-eater seals, many penguins, some giant petrels, and a Wilson petrel.
That afternoon tremendous pieces of ice were passed; they were absolutely
solid and regular floes, being ten to twelve feet above water and, as far
as one could judge, about 50 feet below. The water here was beautifully
We had now reached latitude 68 degrees and, as penguins were plentiful,
Archer and Clissold, the cooks, made us penguin stews and "hooshes" to
eke out our fresh provisions. Concerning the penguins, they frequently
came and inspected the ship. One day Wilson and I chased some, but they
continually kept just out of our reach; then Uncle Bill lay down on the
snow, and when one, out of curiosity, came up to him he grabbed it by the
leg and brought it to the ship, protesting violently, for all the world
like a little old man in a dinner jacket. Atkinson and Wilson found a new
kind of tapeworm in this penguin, with a head like a propeller. This worm
has since been named after one of us!
We were now down to under 300 tons of coal, some of which had perforce to
be landed, in addition to the 30 tons of patent fuel which were under the
forward stores. I had no idea that Captain Scott could be so patient. He
put the best face on everything, although he certainly was disappointed
in the "Terra Nova" and her steaming capacity. He could not well have
been otherwise when comparing her with his beloved "Discovery." Whilst in
the pack our leader spent his time in getting hold of the more detailed
part of our scientific programme and mildly tying the scientists in
We had some good views of whales in the pack. Whenever a whale was
sighted Wilson was called to identify it unless it proved to belong to
one of the more common species. We saw Sibbald's whale; Rorquals, and
many killer whales, but no Right whales were properly identified this
I very much wanted to show Scott the island we had discovered in the
first Antarctic Relief Expedition and named after him, but when in its
vicinity snow squalls and low visibility prevented this.
On the 22nd Bowers, Wright, Griffith Taylor and myself chased a lot of
young penguins on the ice and secured nine for our Christmas dinner. We
spent a very pleasant Christmas this year, devoting great attention to
food. We commenced the day with kidneys from our frozen meat store.
Captain Scott conducted the Christmas church service and all hands
attended since we had no steam up and were fast held in the pack. The
ward-room was decorated with our sledge flags and a new blue tablecloth
generally brightened up our Mess. We had fresh mutton for lunch and the
seamen had their Christmas dinner at this time. The afterguard dined at
6.30 on fresh penguin, roast beef, plum pudding, mince pies, and
asparagus, while we had champagne, port, and liqueurs to drink and an
enormous box of Fry's fancy chocolates for dessert. This "mortal gorge"
was followed by a sing-song lasting until midnight, nearly every one,
even the most modest, contributing. Around the Christmas days we made but
insignificant headway, only achieving thirty-one miles in the best part
of the week, but on the 29th the floes became thin and the ice showed
signs of recent formation, though intermingled with heavier floes of old
and rotten ice. There was much diatomacea in the rotten floes. About 2.40
a.m. the ship broke through into a lead of open water six miles in
I spent the middle watch in the crow's-nest, Bowers being up there with
me talking over the Expedition, his future and mine. He was a wonderful
watch companion, especially when he got on to his favourite subject,
India. He had some good tales to tell of the Persian Gulf, of days and
weeks spent boat-cruising, of attacks made on gun-running dhows and
kindred adventure. He told me that one dhow was boarded while he was up
the Gulf, when the Arabs, waiting until most of the boat's crew of
bluejackets were on board, suddenly let go the halyards of their great
sail and let it down crash over the lot, the boom breaking many heads and
the sail burying our seamen, while the Arabs got to work and practically
scuppered the crowd.
Soon after 4 a.m. I went below and turned in, confident that we were
nearing the southern extreme of the pack. Captain Scott awoke when I went
into the cabin, pleased at the prospect, but after so many adverse ice
conditions he shook his head, unwilling to believe that we should get
clear yet awhile. I bet him ten sardine sandwiches that we should be out
of the pack by noon on the 30th, and when I turned out at 8 o'clock I was
delighted to find the ship steaming through thin floes and passing into a
series of great open water leads. By 6 p.m. on the 29th a strong breeze
was blowing, snow was falling, and we were punching along under steam and
sail. Sure enough we got out of the pack early on the 30th and, cracking
on all our canvas, were soon doing eight knots with a following wind.
Later in the day the wind headed us with driving snow, fine rain, and,
unfortunately, a considerable head swell. This caused the ship to pitch
so badly that the ponies began to give trouble again. Oates asked for the
speed to be reduced, but we got over this by setting fore and aft sail
and keeping the ship's head three or four points off the wind. New Year's
Eve gave us another anxious time, for we encountered a hard blow from the
S.S.E. It was necessary to heave the ship to most of the day under bare
poles with the engines just jogging to keep the swell on her bow. A thin
line of pack ice was sighted in the morning and this turned out to be
quite a blessing in disguise, for I took the ship close to the edge of it
and skirted along to leeward. The ice formed a natural break-water and
damped the swell most effectually. The swell and sea in the open would
have been too much for the ponies as it must be remembered that they had
been in their stalls on board for five weeks.
We had now reached the Continental Shelf, the depth of water had changed
from 1111 fathoms on the 30th to 180 fathoms this day. The biologists
took advantage of our jogging along in the open water to trawl, but very
few specimens were obtained. At midnight the "youth of the town" made the
devil of a din by striking sixteen bells, blowing whistles on the siren,
hooting with the foghorn, cheering and singing. What children we were,
but what matter!
1911 came like the opening of a new volume of an exciting book. This was
the year in which Scott hoped to reach the Pole, the ideal date he had
given being December 21. This was the year that Campbell and his party
were looking forward to so eagerly--if only they could be successful in
landing their gear and equipment in King Edward VII. Land--and, for the
less showy but more scientific sledgers, 1911 held a wealth of excitement
in store. Griffith Taylor and Debenham knew pretty well that next New
Year's Day would see them in the midst of their Western journey with the
secrets of those rugged mountains revealed perhaps. I do not know what my
own feelings were, it would be impossible to describe them. I read up
part of Shackleton's diary and something of what his companion Wilde had
written. Just this:
12 _miles_, 200 _yards_.--1/1/08.
"Started usual time. Quan (pony) got through the forenoon fairly well
with assistance, but after lunch the poor chap broke down and we had
to take him out of harness. Shackleton, Adams, and Marshall dragged
his sledge, and I brought the ponies along with the other load. As
soon as we camped I gave Quan the bullet, and Marshall and I cut him
up. He was a tough one. I am cook this week with Marshall as my tent
The more one read into Shackleton's story the more wonderful it all
seemed, and with our resources failure appeared impossible--yet that
telegram which Captain Scott had received at Melbourne:
"Beg leave to inform you proceeding Antarctic.
We all knew that Amundsen had no previous Antarctic sledging experience,
but no one could deny that to Norwegians ice-work, and particularly
ski-ing, was second nature, and here lay some good food for thought and
discussion. Where would the "Fram" enter the pack? Where would Amundsen
make his base? The answers never once suggested anything like the truth.
Actually on New Year's Day Amundsen was between 500 and 600 miles north
of us, but of Roald Amundsen more anon.
How strange to be once more in open water, able to steer whatever course
we chose, with broad daylight all night, and at noon only a couple of
days' run from Cape Crozier. Practically no ice in sight, but a sunlit
summer sea in place of the pack, with blue sky and cumulo stratus clouds,
so different from the gray, hard skies that hung so much over the great
ice field we had just forced. The wind came fair as the day wore on and
by 10 p.m. we were under plain sail, doing a good six knots. High
mountains were visible to the west-ward, part of the Admiralty Range, two
splendid peaks to be seen towering above the remainder, which appeared to
be Mounts Sabine and Herschell. Coulman Island was seen in the distance
during the day.
What odd thrills the sight of the Antarctic Continent sent through most
of us. Land was first sighted late on New Year's Eve and I think
everybody had come on deck at the cry "Land oh!" To me those peaks always
did and always will represent silent defiance; there were times when they
made me shudder, but it is good to have looked upon them and to remember
them in those post-War days of general discontent, for they remind me of
the four Antarctic voyages which I have made and of the unanimous
goodwill that obtained in each of the little wooden ships which were our
homes for so long. How infinitely distant those towering mountains seemed
and how eternal their loneliness.
As we neared Cape Crozier Wilson became more and more interested. He was
dreadfully keen on the beach there being selected as a base, and his
enthusiasm was infectious. Certainly Scott was willing enough to try to
effect a landing even apart from the advantage of having a new base. The
Cape Crozier beach would probably mean a shorter journey to the Pole, for
we should be spared the crevasses which radiated from White Island and
necessitated a big detour being made to avoid them.
As we proceeded the distant land appeared more plainly and we were able
to admire and identify the various peaks of the snow-clad mountain range.
The year could not have opened more pleasantly. We had church in a warm
sun, with a temperature several degrees above freezing point, and most of
us spent our off-time basking in the sunshine, yarning, skylarking, and
being happy in general.
We tried to get a white-bellied whale on the 2nd January, but our
whale-gun did not seem to have any buck in it and the harpoon dribbled
out a fraction of the distance it was expected to travel.
The same glorious weather continued on January 2, and Oates took five of
the ponies on to the upper deck and got their stables cleared out. The
poor animals had had no chance of being taken from their stalls for
thirty-eight days, and their boxes were between two and three feet deep
with manure. The four ponies stabled on the upper deck looked fairly well
but were all stiff in their legs.
Rennick took soundings every forty or fifty miles in the Ross Sea, the
depth varying from 357 fathoms comparatively close up to Cape Crozier to
180 fathoms in latitude 73 degrees.
Cape Crozier itself was sighted after breakfast on the 3rd, and the Great
Ice Barrier appeared like a thin line on the southern horizon at 11.30
that morning. We were close to the Cape by lunch time, and by 1.30 we had
furled sail in order to manoeuvre more freely. The "Terra Nova" steamed
close up to the face of the Barrier, then along to the westward until we
arrived in a little bay where the Barrier joins Cape Crozier. Quite a
tide was washing past the cliff faces of the ice; it all looked very
white, like chalk, while the sun was near the northern horizon, but later
in the afternoon blue and green shadows were cast over the ice, giving it
a softer and much more beautiful appearance. Ponting was given a chance
to get some cinema films of the Barrier while we were cruising around,
and then we stopped in the little bay where the Ice Barrier joins Cape
Crozier, lowered a boat, and Captain Scott, Wilson, myself, and several
others went inshore in a whaler. We were, however, unable to land as the
swell was rather too heavy for boat work. We saw an Emperor penguin chick
and a couple of adult Emperors, besides many Adelie penguins and
skua-gulls. We pulled along close under the great cliffs which frown over
the end of the Great Ice Barrier. They contrasted strangely in their
blackness with the low crystal ice cliffs of the Barrier itself. In one
place we were splashed by the spray from quite a large waterfall, and one
realised that the summer sun, beating down on those black foothills, must
be melting enormous quantities of ice and snow. A curious ozone smell,
which must have been the stench of the guano from the penguin rookeries,
was noticed, but land smells of any sort were pleasant enough now for it
brought home to us the fact that we should shortly embark on yet another
stage of the Expedition.
Pennell conned the ship close under the cliffs and followed the boat
along the coast. The "Terra Nova" was quite dwarfed by the great rocky
bluffs and we realised the height of the cliffs for the first time.
Whilst we were prospecting Nelson obtained water-bottle samples and
temperatures at 10, 50, 100, and 200 fathoms. The deep water apparently
continued to the foot of the cliff in most places but there were two or
three tiny steep beaches close to the junction of the Barrier and Ross
Captain Scott being satisfied that no landing was possible, we in the
boat returned to the ship and proceeded in her to the penguin rookery, a
mile or so farther west. When half a mile from the shore, we found the
bottom rapidly shoaling, the least depth being 9 1/2 fathoms. Several
small bergs were ashore hereabouts, but the swell breaking on the beach
plainly told us that a landing was out of the question. After carefully
searching the shore with glasses while the ship steamed slowly along it
all, ideas of a landing were abandoned and we set course for McMurdo
Sound. As soon as the ship was headed for her new destination we
commenced to make a running survey of the coast to Cape Bird. This took
until ten o'clock at night, and we found a great bight existed in Ross
Island which quite changed its shape on the map. After 10 p.m. we ran
into some fairly heavy pack ice, gave up surveying, and had a meal.
I went up to the crow's-nest in order to work the ship to the best
advantage, and spent eleven hours on end there, but the excitement of
getting the "Terra Nova" round Cape Bird and into McMurdo Sound made the
time fly. Occasionally the ship crashed heavily as she charged her way
through the ice masses which skirted the shore. Whilst I conned the ship
leadsmen sounded carefully, and I was able to work her close in to the
coast near Cape Bird and avoid some heavy ice which we could never have
forced. At 4.30 a.m. I broke through the Cape Bird ice-field and worked
the ship on as far as Cape Royds, which was passed about 6.30 a.m.
Looking through our binoculars we noticed Shackleton's winter hut looking
quite new and fresh.
Leaving Cape Royds we made our way up McMurdo's Sound as far as
Inaccessible Island, where we found the Strait frozen over from east to
west. Skirting along the edge of the sea ice I found there was no way in,
although I endeavoured to break into it at several points to reach what
looked like open water spaces a mile or two from the ice edge.
Accordingly, we stopped and I came down to report on the outlook. Captain
Scott, Wilson, and I eventually went aloft to the cross-trees and had a
good look round; we finally decided to land and look at a place where
there appeared to be a very good beach. In "Discovery" days this spot was
known as the skuary, being a favourite nesting place for skua-gulls, a
sort of little cape. I piloted the ship as close I could to this
position, which is situate midway between Cape Bird and Cape Armitage on
Ross Island. An ice anchor was laid out and then Scott, Wilson, and I
landed on the sea ice and walked a mile or so over it to the little cape
It appeared to be an ideal winter quarters, and was then and there
selected as our base. Captain Scott named it Cape Evans, after me, for
which I was very grateful. Wilson already had a Cape named after him on
the Victoria Land coast in latitude 82 degrees.
We now returned on board and immediately commenced landing motor sledges,
ponies, etc. For better working, once the various parties were landed, we
adopted the standard time of meridian 180 degrees, in other words, twelve
hours fast on Greenwich Mean Time.
We now organised ourselves into three parties and I gave up the command
of the "Terra Nova" to Pennell till the ship returned from New Zealand
next year. The charge of the transport over the one and a half miles of
sea ice which lay between the ship and shore was given to Campbell,
whilst I took charge of the Base Station, erection of huts, and so forth,
Captain Scott himself supervising, planning and improving.
We continued getting stuff out on the ice until late at night, and by
dinner time, 7 p.m., we had put two motor sledges, all the dogs and
ponies ashore, besides most of the ordinary sledges and tents.
Next day we turned out all hands at 4.30, breakfasted at 5, started work
at 6, and landed all the petrol, kerosene, and hut timber. Most of the
haulage was done by motors and men, but a few runs were made with ponies.
We erected a big tent on the beach at Cape Evans and in this the
hut-building party and those who were stowing stores and unloading
sledges on the beach got their meals and sleep. We worked continuously
until 10 p.m. with only the shortest of meal intervals, and then, tired
but contented, we "flattened out" in our sleeping-bags, bunks, or
The following day the same routine was continued and nearly the whole of
the provision cases came ashore and were stacked in neat little piles
under Bowers's direction. This indefatigable little worker now devoted
himself entirely to the western party stores. He knew every case and all
about it. Each one weighed approximately 60 lb. We had purposely arranged
that this should be so when ordering stores in London to save weight and
space. The cases were made of Venesta 3-ply wood. Of course, the
instruments and heavier scientific gear could not stow in these handy
packages, but the sixty-pound-Venesta was adhered to whenever possible.
The ponies were not worked till the afternoon of the 6th, and then only
the best of them with light loads.
Davis, the carpenter, had with him seaman Ford, Keohane, and Abbot. Their
routine was a little different from ours: they worked at hut building
from 7 a.m. till midnight usually, and their results were little short of
marvellous. Odd people helped them when they could, and of these Pouting
showed himself to be _facile princeps_ as carpenter. I never saw anything
like the speed in which he set up tongued and grooved match boarding.
Day, Nelson, and Lashly worked with the motor sledges; the newest motor
frequently towed loads of 2500 lb. over the ice at a six mile an hour
speed. The oldest hauled a ton and managed six double trips a day. Day,
the motor engineer, had been down here before--both he and Priestley came
from the Shackleton Expedition. The former had a decidedly comic vein
which made him popular all round. From start to finish Day showed himself
to be the most undefeated sportsman, and it was not his fault that the
motor sledges did badly in the end.
Perhaps my diary from January 7, 1911, to the 8th gives a good idea of
the progress we were making with the base station and of the general
working day here. It reads as follows:
"_Saturday, January_ 7, 1911.
"All hands hard at work landing stores. Meares and Dimitri running dog
teams to and fro for light gear.
"Captain Scott, Dr. Wilson, Griffith Taylor, Debenham, Cherry-Garrard,
and Browning leading ponies. Campbell, Levick, and Priestley hauling
sledges with colossal energy and enormous loads, the majority of the
ship's party unloading stores; Bowers, two seamen, Atkinson, and I
unloading sledges on the beach and carrying their contents up to their
assigned positions, Simpson and Wright laying the foundations for a
magnetic hut, and so on. Every one happy and keen, working as
incessantly as ants. I took on the job of ice inspector, and three or
four times a day I go out and inspect the ice, building snow bridges
over the tide cracks and thin places. The ice, excepting the floe to
which the ship is fast, is several feet thick. The floe by the 'Terra
Nova' is very thin and rather doubtful. We, ashore, had dinner at 10
p.m. and turned in about 11."
But the following day, although included here, was by no means typical.
"_Sunday, January_ 8.
"This morning a regrettable accident took place. The third and newest
motor sledge was hoisted out and, while being hauled clear on to the
firm ice, it broke through and sank in deep water. Campbell and Day
came in with the news, which Captain Scott took awfully well.
"It was nobody's fault, as Simpson and Campbell both tested the floe
first and found it quite thick and apparently good. However, there it
is, in about 100 fathoms of water.
"We stopped sledging for the day and those on board shifted the ship
by warping, but could not get her into a satisfactory billet, so
"We spent the day working on the hut and putting chairs and benches
together. Captain Scott put the sledge meters together and I helped
him. These are similar to the distance meters on motor-cars. They
register in nautical miles (6084 feet) and yards, to 25 yards or less
"Took a True Bearing and found the approximate variation for Simpson
(149 degrees E.)."
On the following day those on board the ship shifted her to a new
position alongside the fast ice, just under a mile from our beach. The
transportation of stores continued and we got ashore a great number of
bales of compressed fodder, also some Crown Preserve Patent Fuel. As
there was nothing much to do on the beach my party lent a hand with the
landing of fodder, and I led the ponies Miki, Jehu, and Blossom; the
latter, having suffered greatly on the outward voyage, was in poor
condition. Still, most of the ponies were doing well, and at night were
picketed on a snowdrift behind the hut. They occasionally got adrift, but
I usually heard them and got up to make them fast, my small sleeping-tent
being right alongside their tethering space.
Nelson continued working with me unless the requirements of his
biological work called him away. In less than a week we had the whole of
our stores and equipment landed, and from the beginning many of us took
up our quarters at Cape Evans itself. We pitched several small tents on
the beach; and it was an agreeable change to roll up and sleep in a fur
bag after the damp, cold berths we had occupied in the ship. Teddy Nelson
became my particular friend in the shore party and shared a sledging tent
with me. The rest of the shore staff paired off and slept in the small
tents, while Captain Scott had one to himself. We called it the "Holy of
Holies," and from the privacy of this tiny dwelling Scott issued his
directions, supervised, planned, and improved whenever improvement could
be made in anything. He had a marvellous brain and a marvellous way of
getting the best possible work out of his subordinates, still he never
spared himself. One did with extraordinary little sleep, and in the sunny
days it became necessary to leave tent doors wide open, otherwise the
close-woven wind-proof tent cloth kept all the fresh air out and one woke
with a terrific head.
To rightly get hold of our wintering place one must imagine a low spit of
land jutting out into a fiord running, roughly north and south and
bounded on both sides by a steep-to coast line indented with glaciers of
vast size. Here and there gigantic snow-slopes were to be seen which more
gradually lowered into the sea, and all around ice-covered mountains with
black and brown foothills. A few islands rose to heights of 300 or 400
feet in McMurdo Sound, and these had no snow on them worth speaking of
even in the winter. The visible land was of black or chocolate-brown,
being composed of volcanic tuff, basalts, and granite. There were
occasional patches of ruddy brown and yellow which relieved the general
black and white appearance of this uninhabitable land, and close to the
shore on the north side of Cape Evans were small patches of even gritty
sand. In the neighbourhood of our Cape hard, brittle rocks cropped up
everywhere, rocks that played havoc with one's boots. Sloping up fairly
steeply from Cape Evans itself we had more and more rock masses until a
kind of rampart was reached, on which one could see a number of
extraordinary conical piles of rock, which looked much as if they had
been constructed by human hands for landmarks or surveying beacons--these
were called debris cones. This part above and behind Cape Evans was
christened The Ramp, and from it one merely had to step from boulders and
stones on to the smooth blue ice-slope that extended almost without
interruption to the summit of Erebus itself. From The Ramp one could gaze
in wonder at that magnificent volcano, White Lady of the Antarctic,
beautiful in her glistening gown of sparkling crystal with a stole of
filmy smoke-cloud wrapped about her wonderful shoulders.
We used to gaze and gaze at that constantly changing smoke or steam which
the White Lady breathes out at all seasons, and has done for thousands of
Those were such happy days during the first Cape Evans summer. For the
most part we had hot weather and could wash in the thaw pools which
formed from the melting snow, and even draw our drinking water from the
cascades which bubbled over the sun-baked rock, much as they do in
summer-time in Norway.
The progress made by Davis and his crew of voluntary carpenters was
amazing. One week after our arrival at the Cape, Nelson, Meares, and I
commenced to cut a cave out of the ice cap above our camp for stowing our
fresh mutton in. When knock-off work-time came Bowers, Nelson, and I made
our way over to the ship with a hundred gallons of ice from this cave to
be used for drinking water, it all helped to save coal and nobody made a
journey to or fro empty handed if it could be helped. Once on board we
took the opportunity to bath and shave. In this country it is certainly a
case of "Where I dines I sleeps," so after supper on board we coiled down
in somebody's beds and slept till 5.30 next morning when we returned to
camp and carried on all day, making great progress with the grotto, which
was eventually lit by electric light. We had plenty of variety in the
matter of work; one part of the grotto was intended for Simpson's
magnetic work, and this was the illuminated section. Whenever people
visited the ice caves we got them to do a bit of picking and hewing; even
roping in Captain Scott, who did a healthy half-hour's work when he came
along our way.
Scott and Wilson got their hands in at dog-driving now, as I did
occasionally myself. Nobody could touch Meares or Dimitri at dog-team
work, although later on Cherry-Garrard and Atkinson became the experts.
The hut was finished externally on January 12 and fine stables built up
on its northern side. This complete, Bowers arranged an annexe on the
south side from which to do the rationing and provision issues. How we
blessed all this fine weather; it was hardly necessary to wear snow
glasses, in spite of so much sunshine, for the glare was relieved by the
dark rock and sand around us. When all the stores had been discharged
from the ship she lightened up considerably, and Campbell then set to
work to ballast her for Pennell. Meares amused the naval members of our
party by asking, with a childlike innocence, "Had they got all the cargo
out of the steamer?" There was nothing wrong in what he said, but the
"Terra Nova," Royal Yacht Squadron--and "cargo" and "steamer"--how our
naval pride was hurt!
Incidentally we called the sandy strand (before the winter snow came, and
covered it, and blotted it all out) Hurrah Beach; the bay to the
northward of the winter quarters we christened Happy Bay. Although our
work physically was of the hardest we lived in luxury for a while. Nelson
provided cocoa for Captain Scott and myself at midnight just before we
slept. He used to make it after supper and keep it for us in a great
thermos flask. We only washed once a week and we were soon black with sun
and dirt but in splendid training. In the first three weeks my shore
gang, which included the lusty Canadian physicist, Wright, carried many
hundreds of cases, walked miles daily, dug ice, picked, shovelled, handed
ponies, cooked and danced. Outwardly we were not all prototypes of "the
Sentimental Bloke," but occasionally in the stillness of the summer
nights, we some of us unbent a bit, when the sun stood low in the south
and all was quiet and still, and we did occasionally build castles in the
air and draw home-pictures to one another, pictures of English summers,
of river picnics and country life that framed those distant homes in gold
and made them look to us like little bits of heaven--however, what was
more important, the stores were all out of the "Terra Nova," even to
stationery, instruments, and chronometers, and we could have removed into
the hut at a pinch a week before we did, or gone sledging, for that
matter, had we not purposely delayed to give the ponies a chance to
regain condition. It was certainly better to let the carpenter and his
company straighten up first, and in our slack hours we, who were to live
in the palatial hut, got the house in order, put up knick-knacks, and
settled into our appointed corners with our personal gear and
professional impedimenta only at the last moment, a day or two before the
big depot-laying sledge journey was appointed to start. Simpson and
Ponting had the best allotments in the hut, because the former had to
accommodate anemometers, barometers, thermometers, motors, bells, and a
diversity of scientific instruments, but yet leave room to sleep amongst
them without being electrocuted, while the latter had to arrange a
small-sized dark room, 8 ft. by 6 ft. floor dimension, for all his
developing of films and plates, for stowing photographic gear and
cinematograph, and for everything in connection with his important and
beautiful work as camera artist to the Expedition. Ponting likewise slept
where he worked, so a bed was also included in the dark room.
Before moving the chronometers ashore Pennell, Rennick, and I myself took
astronomical observations to determine independently the position of the
observation spot on the beach at Cape Evans. The preliminary position
gave us latitude 77 degrees 38 minutes 23 seconds S. longitude 166
degrees 33 minutes 24 seconds E., a more accurate determination was
arrived at by running meridian distances from New Zealand and taking
occultations during the ensuing winter, for longitude: latitudes were
obtained by the mean results of stars north and south and meridian
altitudes of the sun above and below pole.
Before getting busy with the preliminaries for the big depot journey, I
took stock of the fresh meat in the grotto. The list of frozen flesh
which I handed over to Clissold, the cook, looked luxurious enough, for
it included nothing less than 700 lb. of beef, 100 sheep carcasses, 2
pheasants, 3 ox-tails, and 3 tongues, 10 lb. of sweetbread, 1 box of
kidneys, 10 lb. of suet, 82 penguins, and 11 skua-gulls! The cooks'
corner in the hut was very roomy, and, if my memory serves me aright, our
cooking range was of similar pattern to one supplied to the Royal yacht,
On January 19 a snow road was made over to the ice foot on the south side
of Cape Evans in order to save the ponies' legs and hoofs. The Siberian
ponies were not shod, and this rough, volcanic rock would have shaken
A great deal of the bay ice had broken away and drifted out of the Sound,
so that by the 20th the ship was only a few hundred yards from Hurrah
Beach. This day Rennick, smiling from ear to ear, came across the ice
with the pianola in bits conveyed on a couple of sledges. He fixed it up
with great cleverness at one end of the hut and it was quite wonderful to
see how he stripped it on board, brought it through all sorts of spaces,
transported it undamaged over ice and rocky beach, re-erected it, tuned
it, and then played "Home, Sweet Home." What with the pianola going all
out, the gramophone giving us Melba records, and the ship's company's
gramophone squawking out Harry Lauder's opposition numbers, Ponting
cinematographing everything of interest and worthy of pictorial record,
little Anton rushing round with nosebags for the ponies, Meares and
Dimitri careering with the dog teams over ice, beach, packing cases, and
what not, sailors with coloured tam-o'-shanters bobbing around in
piratical style, the hot sun beating down and brightening up everything,
one might easily have imagined this to be the circus scene, in the great
Antarctic joy-ride film. Everything ran on wheels in these days, and it
was difficult to imagine that in three months there would be no sun, that
this sweltering beach would be encrusted with ice, and that the cold,
dark winter would be upon us.
The 21st was quite an exciting day. Captain Scott woke me at 4 a.m. to
tell me that the ship was in difficulties. I got up at once, called the
four seamen, and with Uncle Bill we all went out on to the floe. The ice
to which the ship was fast had broken away, and so we helped her re-moor
with her ice-anchors. Petty Officer Evans went adrift on the floe, but we
got him back in the pram. We turned in again at 5.15 and set a watch, but
at 6.30 the "Terra Nova" hoisted an ensign at the main, a pre-arranged
signal, and so all hands again went out and got her ice anchors; she
slipped the ends of the wire hawsers holding them and stood out into the
Sound. The ice was breaking up fast, a swell rolling in causing the big
floes to grind and crunch in rather alarming fashion. Fortunately,
Pennell had raised steam, which was just as well for before he got clear
the ship was only half a cable from Cape Evans, which lay dead to
leeward--she was well out of it. We took the wire hawsers, pram and ice
anchors to our winter quarters and kept them in readiness for the ship's
return, then had a delightful breakfast, with appetites sharpened from
the early morning exercise and chill wind. Afterwards we continued the
preparations for the depot trip and got eight out of eleven sledges
fitted up with the bulk of their gear and a portion of stores.
At about 3 p.m. the "Terra Nova" came in, and just as she was turning to
come alongside the fast ice she struck a rock with only twelve feet of
water on it. This pinnacle, as it proved to be, lay within twenty feet of
a sounding of eleven fathoms. Pennell immediately sounded all round,
shifted several tons weight aft, and with the engines going full speed
astern, he made his crew run from side to side and roll ship. Scott sent
me out in the whaler with a party to assist the ship; we sounded all
round and quickly made a plan of the relative disposition of the
soundings round the "Terra Nova." However, as we finished, the ship moved
astern and successfully floated, the crew gave three cheers, and we
cheered lustily from the whaler. Pennell, as usual, was quite equal to
the occasion when the ship struck; he was absolutely master of the
situation, cool, decided, and successful. I was thankful to see the ship
floating again, for, unlike the "Discovery" expedition, we had no plans
for a relief ship.
When I told Captain Scott that the "Terra Nova" had run ashore he took it
splendidly. We ran down to the beach, and when we beheld the ship on a
lee shore heeling over to the wind, a certain amount of sea and swell
coming in from the northward, and with the ultimate fate of the
Expedition looking black and doubtful, Scott was quite cheerful, and he
immediately set about to cope with the situation as coolly as though he
were talking out his plans for a sledge journey.
After the "Terra Nova" got off this intruding rock she was steamed round
to the edge of the fast ice, near the glacier tongue which juts out
between Cape Evans and Cape Barne. We placed her ice-anchors, and after
that Wilson and I went on board and had a yarn with Pennell, whom we
brought back to tea. Scott was awfully nice to him about the grounding
and told him of his own experience in 1904, when the "Discovery" was
bumping heavily in a gale just after freeing herself from the ice at Hut
Nelson, Griffith Taylor, Meares, and Day helped me with the sledge
packing until 11.30 p.m. when we rolled into our bunks tired out and
immediately fell asleep.
The next day, a Sunday, was entirely devoted to preparing personal gear
for the depot journey: this means fitting lamp wick straps to our fur
boots or finnesko, picking from our kits a proportion of puttees and
socks, sewing more lamp wick on to our fur gloves so that these could
hang from our shoulders when it was necessary to uncover our hands. We
also had to fit draw-strings to our wind-proof blouses and adjust our
headgear according to our individual fancy, and finally, tobacco and
smokers' requisites would be added to the little bundle, which all packed
up neatly in a pillow-slip. This personal bag served also as a pillow.
SETTLING DOWN TO THE POLAR LIFE
The following members were selected for the depot journey which Captain
Scott elected to lead in person: Wilson, Bowers, Atkinson, Oates,
Cherry-Garrard, Gran, Meares, Ford, Crean, Keohane, and myself. It was
decided to take eight pony-sledges and two dog-sledges, together with
about a ton of pony food, sledging rations, dog biscuit, and paraffin to
a position on the Great Ice Barrier as far south as we could get before
the first winter set in. This decision was arrived at by Scott after
consultation with Oates and others, and, as will be seen by reference to
the list of those chosen for the journey, none of the scientific staff
were included except Wilson himself.
The ponies selected were either those in the best condition or the weaker
beasts which from Oates's viewpoint would hardly survive the rigours of
the winter. Apart from the animals picked for this journey, we had nine
beasts left to be taken care of by the little Russian, Anton, and the
trusty Lashly, whose mechanical knowledge and practical ability were
needed to help get the Base Station going.
On January 3 I was sent on board with all the sledges, including two for
a western geological reconnaissance and a small spare sledge for use in
case of breakdown or accident to the depot-laying people. By this time no
ice remained in the bay north of Cape Evans and the transport out to the
"Terra Nova" had perforce to be done by boat.
I was glad to have this chance of working out the errors and rates of our
chronometer watches, and, although I was up at 5 a.m., I could not resist
having a long yarn, which continued far into the night, with those
never-to-be-forgotten friends of mine, Campbell, Pennell, Rennick, and
Bruce, the worthy and delightful lieutenants of the Expedition. Like
little Bowers, Pennell and Rennick have made the supreme sacrifice, and
only Campbell, Bruce and myself remain alive to-day.
January 24 was a busy day. Captain Scott was fetched from the shore
directly after breakfast, and at 10 a.m. the ship left for Glacier Tongue
to shadow as it were, the string of white Siberian ponies which were
being led round over the fast ice in the bay to the southward of Cape
On arriving at the Tongue, Pennell selected a nice, natural wharf to put
his ship alongside, and, this done, I got a picketing line out on the ice
for the horses and then got the sledges on to the glacier. It is as well
here to describe Glacier Tongue briefly, since frequent reference will be
made to that icy promontory in this narrative.
Glacier Tongue lies roughly six miles to the S.S.E. of Cape Evans and is
a remarkable spit of ice jutting out, when last surveyed, for four miles
into McMurdo Sound. Soundings showed that it was afloat for a
considerable part of its length, and as Scott found subsequently, a great
portion of it broke adrift in the autumn or winter of 1911 and was
carried by the winds and currents of the Sound to a position forty miles
W.N.W. of Cape Evans, where it grounded, a huge flat iceberg two miles in
length. Glacier Tongue was an old friend of mine, for it was here in the
1902-4 Relief Expedition that the crew of the little "Morning" dumped
twenty tons of coal for the "Discovery" to pick up on her way northward,
when the time came for her to free herself from the besetting ice which
held her prisoner off Hut Point.
The ponies were marched to their tethering place without further accident
than one falling through into the sea, but he was rescued none the worse.
Oates showed himself to advantage in managing the ponies: he was very
fond of telling us that a horse and a man would go anywhere, and I
believe if we sailor-men had had the bad taste to challenge him he would
have hoisted one of those Chinese ma up to the crow's-nest!
[1: Chinese for horse.]
We all had tea on board and then, after checking the sledge loads and
ascertaining that nothing had been forgotten, the depot party started out
with full loads and marched away from Glacier Tongue for seven miles,
when our first camp was made on the sea ice. To commence with I went with
Meares and No. 1 dog-sledge; the dogs were so eager and excited that they
started by bolting at a breakneck speed and, in spite of all that we
could do, took us over the glacier edge on to the sea ice. The sledge
capsized and both Meares and I were thrown down somewhat forcibly. We
caught the sledge, however, and got the dogs in hand after their initial
energy had been expended. Scott and Wilson managed their dog sledge
better as Meares gave them a quieter team.
It was about nine o'clock when we camped, Meares, Wilson, Scott and I
sharing a tent. Uncle Bill was cook, and I must say the first sledging
supper was delightful.
We went back to Glacier Tongue the next day to relay the fodder and dog
biscuit which was to be depoted. We had brought the provisions for depot
along the eve before. I went in with Meares and Nelson, who had come out
on ski to "speed the parting guest." We had a rare treat all riding in on
the dog sledge at a great pace. Had lunch on board and then Captain Scott
gave us an hour or two to ourselves, for it was the day of farewell
letters, everybody sitting round the ward-room table sucking pens or
pencils, looking very wooden-faced and nonchalant despite the fact that
we were most certainly writing to our nearest and dearest, sending
through our letters an unwritten prayer that we should be spared after
steadfastly performing our alloted tasks with credit to our flag and with
credit to those at whose feet we yearned to lay the laurels we hoped to
win. Even as I wrote my farewell letters Captain Scott, Wilson, Bowers,
and Nelson found time to write to my wife; Scott's letter may well be
included here for it shows his thoughtfulness and consideration:
"_January_, 25, 1911,
"Dear Mrs. Evans,--I thought you might be glad to have a note to tell
you how fit and well your good man is looking, his cheery optimism has
already helped me in many difficulties and at the present moment he is
bubbling over with joy at the 'delights' of his first sledge trip.
"He will have told you all the news and the ups and downs of our
history to date, and you will have guessed that he has always met the
misfortunes with a smile and the successes with a cheer, so that very
little remains for me to say--except that I daily grow more grateful
to you for sparing him for this venture. I feel that he is going to be
a great help in every way and that it will go hard if, with so many
good fellows, we should fail in our objects.
"Before concluding I should really like to impress on you how little
cause you have for anxiety. We have had the greatest luck in finding
and establishing our winter quarters, and if I could go shopping
to-morrow I should not know what to buy to add to our comfort. We are
reaping a full reward for all those months of labour in London, in
which your husband took so large a share--if you picture us after
communication is cut off it must be a very bright picture, almost a
scene of constant revelry, with your husband in the foreground amongst
those who are merry and content--I am sure we are going to be a very
happy family and most certainly we shall be healthy and well cared
"With all kind regards and hopes that you will not allow yourself to
be worried till your good man comes safely home again.
I said my good-byes after an early tea to the fellows of the "Terra Nova"
and also to the Eastern party, the lieutenants saw me over the side, and
I went away with a big lump in my throat, then Nelson and I took out a
10-ft. sledge with 530 lb. of fodder on it--rather too heavy a load, but
it all helped, and the sea ice surface was none too bad. We did not get
to camp till 10.35 p.m.: Meares, with his usual good-heartedness, came
out from the tent and helped us in for the last miles or so. He had
driven the dogs out with another load after tea time. Uncle Bill had a
fine pemmican supper awaiting us. My job kept me in camp next day to
adjust theodolites, but the rest of the party went out to bring the final
relay of depot stores from the "Terra Nova." During the following days we
relayed the depot stuff along to a position near the edge of the Barrier,
and whilst so engaged most of us found time to visit Hut Point. While
Captain Scott was selecting the position for dumping a quantity of
compressed fodder bales the remainder of the party dug the snow out of
the old hut left by the Discovery in 1904. It looked a very deserted
place, and the difference between the two winter quarters, Hut Point and
Cape Evans, was amazing. One could quite understand the first expedition
here selecting Hut Point for its natural harbour, but for comfort and
freedom from unwelcome squalls and unpleasant gusts of wind commend me to
Cape Evans. Never in my life had I seen anything quite so dreary and
desolate as this locality. Practically surrounded by high hills, little
sunshine could get to the hut, which was built in a hollow. Of course, we
saw the place at its worst, for the best summer months had passed. The
hut itself had been erected as a magnetic observatory and it contrasted
shabbily with our 50-ft by 25-ft. palace. We did not finish clearing the
snow away, although with so many willing workers we made considerable
progress. In parts the midsummer sun had melted the snow, which in turn
had re-frozen into blue ice, and this we found troublesome because the
slender woodwork of the hut would not stand any heavy pick work.
We christened the place on the Barrier edge Fodder Camp, and it was the
general opinion that we could risk leaving the bales of hay here until
the depot stuff had been taken south. Accordingly, all the more important
stores were relayed on January 29 to a position two miles in from the
Barrier edge. Whilst doing this relay work I went in with Meares to Hut
Point to bring out some 250 lb. of dog biscuit, and our dogs, being very
fresh, scented a seal, took charge of the light sledge, and, in spite of
all the brakeing and obstructing Meares and I put up, the dogs went
wildly forward until they reached the seal. The second they came to it
Meares and I found ourselves in the midst of a snapping, snarling, and
biting mixture, with the poor seal floundering underneath. While we were
beating the dogs off the seal bit Meares in the leg; he looked awfully
surprised and showed great forbearance in not giving the seal one for
himself with the iron-shod brake stick. I never saw anybody less vicious
in nature than "Mother" Meares: he never knocked the dogs about unless it
was absolutely necessary. Even Osman, the wild wolf-like king-dog, showed
affection for him.
Whilst moving the sledging stores to Safety Camp, as we called the depot,
two miles in, we came across two tents left by Shackleton two or three
years before. They contained a few stores and a Primus stove, which
proved to be most useful later on. On January 30 and 31 we completed the
depot at Safety Camp and then reorganised the depot party, owing to
Atkinson's developing a very sore heel, which made it impossible for him
to accompany us. It did not matter very much, because we had heaps of
people to work the depot-laying journey, only it meant a disappointment
for Atkinson, which he took to heart very much. The question of sledging
experience made us wish to have Atkinson on this trip, but he gained it a
few weeks later. Accordingly, I took over Crean's pony, Blossom, whilst
he took charge of our sick man and returned with him to Hut Point. Scott
himself took Atkinson's pony, and on the 2nd February the caravan
proceeded in an E.S.E. direction to make for a point in approximately 78
degrees S. 169 degrees E. Most of the ponies had 600 lb. leads on their
sledges, Meare's dog team 750, and Wilson's 600. We found the surface
very bad, most of the ponies sinking deep in the snow. After doing
roughly five miles we halted and had a meal. Oates was called into our
tent and consulted with a view to bettering the conditions for the
ponies. As a result it was decided to march by night and rest during the
day when the sun would be higher and the air warmer. There was quite a
drop in the temperature between noon and midnight, and it was natural to
suppose that we should get better and harder surfaces with the sun at its
lower altitude. We still, of course, had the sun above the horizon for
the full twenty-four hours, and should have for three weeks yet; the
choice was altogether a wise one and we therefore turned in during the
afternoon and remained in our sleeping-bags until 10 p.m. when we arose
and cooked our breakfast.
Camp was broken at midnight and the march resumed. For three hours we
plodded along, a little leg weary perhaps, on account of the unusual time
for marching and working physically. We had lunch about 3 a.m. and rested
the ponies for a couple of hours. The surface was still very bad, the
ponies labouring heavily, and my own animal, Blossom, suffered through
his hoofs being very small, so that he sank into the snow far more than
did the other horses. It was on his account that we only covered nine
miles. I did some surveying work after our 7.30 a.m. supper and turned in
at 10 o'clock until 7 p.m. Captain Scott took over cook in our tent and
made the breakfast.
For the next few days we continued marching over the Great Ice Barrier,
the distances covered depending on the condition of Blossom and another
pony, Bluecher. Both of these animals caused anxiety from the start, and,
owing to their weakness the depot-laying distances scarcely exceeded ten
miles daily. There is nothing to be gained from a long description of
this autumn journey, it was merely a record of patiently trudging and of
carefully watching over the ponies. Generally speaking, the weather was
not in our favour, the sky being frequently overcast, and we experienced
an unpleasant amount of low drift.
February 5 and 6 were blizzard days during which no move could be made,
and it was not until nearly 11 p.m. on the 7th that the hard wind took
off and the snow ceased to drift about us. The blizzards were not serious
but were quite sufficient to try the ponies severely--Blossom, Bluecher,
and a third animal, James Pigg, could in no way keep up with the van,
although their loads were lightened considerably. The bluejackets, Forde
and Keohane, showed extraordinary aptitude in handling the ponies, but in
spite of their efforts their animals were quite done up by February 12,
as also was poor old Blossom. It would have been cruel to continue with
them, they were so wasted, and even their eyes were dull and lustreless.
Accordingly, Scott decided to send Bluecher, James Pigg, and Blossom back
with Forde, Keohane, and myself. A reorganisation was made near the 79th
parallel, and whilst the main party proceeded southward, Forde, Keohane,
and I took our feeble ponies northward with the intention of getting them
home to Hut Point before the temperature fell, until the cold would be
too great for them to stand. It was annoying for me to be sent back,
still there was plenty of survey work to be done between the
turning-point and Safety Camp. Bluecher failed from the start and lay down
in the snow directly the depot party left us. Forde lifted him up, but
his legs were limp and would not support him. We rubbed the poor pony's
legs and did what we could for him, poor old Forde being practically in
tears over the little beast. To give one an idea of this wretched
animal's condition, when it was decided to kill him for humanity's sake
and his throat was cut by Keohane with a sailor's knife, there was hardly
any blood to let out. It was a rotten day for all three of us, blowing
too hard to travel until very late, and a second pony, Blossom, was doing
his best to die. We made some little way homeward, Keohane, James Pigg
and myself pulling the sledge with our gear on it, and Forde lifting,
carrying, and pushing Blossom along. I felt I ought to kill this animal
but I knew how angry and disappointed Scott would be at the loss, so kept
him going although he showed so much distress. It was surprising what
spirit the little brute had: if we started to march away Blossom
staggered along after us, looking like a spectre against the white
background of snow. We kept on giving him up and making to kill him, but
he actually struggled on for over thirty miles before falling down and
dying in his tracks. We built a snow-cairn over him and planted what pony
food we had no further use for on the top of the cairn.
The third pony, James Pigg, was kept fit and snug under a big snow-wall
whenever we were not marching, and he won home to Safety Camp with very
little trouble, frequently covering distances equal to our own marching
capability. Once Safety Camp had been regained we got good weather again
and James Pigg became quite frisky, ate all that we could give him, and,
to our delight, his eyes regained their brightness and he began to put on
We spent a couple of days at Safety Camp before Captain Scott returned
with the dog teams. In order to cut off corners he shaved things rather
fine, and getting rather too close to White Island, the dog teams ran
along the snow-bridge of a crevasse, the bridge subsided, and all the
dogs of Scott's and Meares's sledge, with the exception of Osman, the
leader, and the two rear animals, disappeared into a yawning chasm. Scott
and Meares secured their sledge clear of the snow bridge and with the
assistance of their companions, Wilson and Cherry-Garrard, who had the
other team, they were lowered by means of an Alpine rope into the
crevasse until they could get at the dogs. They, found the poor animals
swinging round, snapping at one another and howling dismally, but in an
awful tangle. The dogs were rescued a pair at a time and, fortunately for
all concerned, they lay down and rested when hauled up to the surface by
Uncle Bill and "Cherry." When all the animals were up and Scott and
Meares themselves had regained safety, a dog fight took place between the
two teams. Apart from this excitement things had gone very well. Scott
was most enthusiastic about the capabilities of Meares's dogs, and he
then expressed an opinion that he would probably run the dogs light on
the Polar journey and do the final plateau march to the Pole itself with
them. What a pity he didn't! Had he done so he might have been alive
We learnt from the dog-drivers that the depot had been established in 79
degrees 30 minutes S. 169 degrees E., practically one hundred and fifty
miles distant from the base, and here a ton or so of sledging stores
awaited us preparatory for the great sledge journey to the Pole.
Bowers, Oates, and Gran had been left to build up the depot and lead back
the other five ponies with their empty sledges. We waited for them at
Safety Camp before transporting some of the stuff we had left here out to
Corner Camp, the position thirty-five miles E.S.E. of Safety Camp, where
the crevasses ended. Some of us went into Hut Point to see if the ship
had been there with any message. Little did we dream whilst we sauntered
in over the ice of the news that awaited us. We found that the "Terra
Nova" had been there the day before Atkinson and Crean had got there; she
had also made a second visit on the 9th or 10th February, bringing the
unwelcome news that Amundsen's expedition had been met with in the Bay of
Whales. The "Terra Nova" had entered the bay and found the "Fram" there
with the Norwegians working like ants unloading their stores and
hut-building in rather a dangerous position quite close to the Barrier
edge. Amundsen's people had about 120 dogs and a hard lot of men, mostly
expert ski-runners. They were contemplating an early summer journey to
the Pole and not proposing to attempt serious scientific work of any
sort. Further, to our chagrin, the eastern party had not effected a
landing, for Campbell realised that it would be profitless to set up his
base alongside that of the Norwegians.
The ice conditions about King Edward VII. Land had been found
insuperable, great masses of land ice barring the way to their objective,
and so poor Campbell and his mates left news that they were reluctantly
seeking a landing elsewhere. We spent a very unhappy night, in spite of
all attempts to be cheerful. Clearly, there was nothing for us but to
abandon science and go for the Pole directly the season for sledging was
advanced enough to make travelling possible after the winter. It now
became a question of dogs versus ponies, for the main bulk of our stuff
must of necessity be pony-drawn unless we could rely on the motor
sledges--nobody believed we could. However, all the arguing in the world
wouldn't push Amundsen and his dogs off the Antarctic continent and we
had to put the best face on our disappointment. Captain Scott took it
very bravely, better than any of us, I think, for he had done already
such wonderful work down here. It was he who initiated and founded
Antarctic sledge travelling, it was he who had blazed the trail, as it
were, and we were very very sorry for him, for such news, such a menace,
could hardly be expected to give him a happy winter.
Scott did the best thing under the circumstances: he set us all to work
on the 23rd February to get out three weeks' men provisions for eight men
from the stores at Safety Camp, and these collected and packed, he,
Cherry-Garrard, and Crean took a 10-ft. sledge, and Forde, Atkinson, and
myself a 12-ft. one, while Keohane and James Pigg pulled another big
sledge containing oats and paraffin, and we all set out in a bunch for
Corner Camp, thirty odd miles away. All this depot work meant an easy
start next season, since the transport of great loads over sea ice and
the deep, soft snow, which is usually encountered when first getting on
to the Barrier hereabouts, would strain the ponies' legs and break the
hearts of the dogs. Scott thought all this out and certainly overcame
preliminary difficulties by getting so much pony food, provision, and
paraffin out to One Ton Camp and Corner Camp. He felt the benefit next
springtime. This second little run out is not worth describing; we
sighted Bowers's party coming back with the five ponies whilst we were
camped one night, and we noted that they were travelling very quickly,
which proved all was well with these animals.
On arrival at Corner Camp Scott left us in order to get back and see the
five ponies safely conducted to Hut Point. He instructed me to make easy
marches with our friend James Pigg as there was no further work for him
this season. Cherry-Garrard and Crean accompanied Scott, and the three
pushed on at their utmost for blizzard weather had come again and the
snow fall was considerable.
We must now follow Captain Scott's and Bowers's party, who, in
conjunction, engaged on the problem of getting five ponies and two dog
teams to Hut Point. There did not seem to be anything in doing this, but
if ever a man's footsteps were dogged by misfortune, they surely were our
Scott sent Cherry-Garrard and Crean with Bowers and four ponies across
the sea ice from the Barrier edge to reach Hut Point on March 1. He
himself had remained with Oates and Gran to tend the pony Weary Willie, a
gutless creature compared to the others, which was showing signs of
failing. Weary Willie died for no apparent reason, unless his loss of
condition was due to the blizzards we encountered on the depot journey.
Bowers and Co. made a good start, but the ponies they had were
undoubtedly tired and listless after their hard journey, they were also
in bad condition and frequently had to be rested. When they had advanced
some way towards Hut Point over good strong sea ice, cracks became
apparent and a slight swell showed Bowers that the sea ice was actually
on the move. Directly this was appreciated his party turned and hastened
back, but the ice was drifting out to sea. The ponies behaved splendidly,
jumping the ever widening cracks with extraordinary sagacity, whilst
Bowers and his two companions launched the sledges over the water spaces
in order not to risk the ponies' legs. Eventually they reached what
looked like a safe place and, since men and ponies were thoroughly
exhausted, camp was pitched and the weary party soon fell asleep, but at
4.30 the next morning Bowers awoke hearing a strange noise. He opened the
tent and found the party in a dreadful plight--the ice had again
commenced to break up and they were surrounded by water. One of the
ponies had disappeared into the sea. Camp was again struck and for five
hours this plucky little party fought their way over three-quarters of a
mile of drifting ice. They never for an instant thought of abandoning
their charge, realising that Scott's Polar plans would in all probability
be ruined if four more ponies were lost with their sledges and equipment.
Crean, with great gallantry, went for support, clambering with difficulty
over the ice. He jumped from floe to floe and at last climbed up the face
of the Barrier from a piece of ice which swung round in the tideway and
just touched the ice cliff at the right moment. Cherry-Garrard stayed
with Bowers at his request, for this undaunted little seaman would never
give up his charge while a gleam of hope remained.
For a whole day these two were afloat on a floe about 150 ft. square, all
the ice around was broken up into similar floes, which were rising and
falling at least a foot to the heavy swell. A moderate breeze was blowing
from the eastward, and nothing was visible above the haze and frost smoke
except the tops of two islands named White and Black Islands, and the
hills around Hut Point. Whilst Crean was clambering over bits of ice and
jumping by means of connecting pieces from one big floe to another, his
progress was watched by Bowers through the telescope of a theodolite. One
can gather how delighted Bowers must have been to see Crean eventually
high up on the Barrier in the distance, for it meant that he would
communicate with Captain Scott, whose intelligent, quick grasp, in
emergency would surely result in Gran being despatched on ski over to
Cape Evans, for he alone could do this. Once there, a boat could have
been launched and the floe party rescued. Bowers's satisfaction was
short-lived, however, since Killer whales were noticed cruising amongst
the loose ice, and these soon became numerous, some of them actually
inspecting the floe by poking their noses up and taking an almost
perpendicular position in the water, when their heads would be raised
right above the floe edge. The situation looked dangerous, for the whales
were evidently after the ponies. The wind fell light as the day
progressed and the swell decreased and vanished altogether. This
fortunately resulted in the floes closing near to the Barrier, and the
open water spaces decreased then to such a degree that the party were
able to bridge the cracks by using their sledges until they worked the
whole of their equipment up to the Barrier face, where Bowers and
Cherry-Garrard were rescued by Scott, Oates, Gran, and Crean. After a
further piece of manoeuvring a pony and all the sledges were recovered,
the three other ponies were drowned. Only those who have served in the
Antarctic can realise fully what Bowers's party and also Scott's own
rescue party went through.
The incident which terminated in the loss of three more of our ponies
cast a temporary gloom over the depot party when we reassembled in the
safety of the old ramshackle magnetic lean-to at Hut Point. I use the
word lean-to because one could hardly describe it as a hut, for the
building was with out insulation, snow filled the space between ceiling
and roof, and whenever a fire was kindled or heat generated, water
dripped down in steady pit-a-pat until there was no dry floor space worth
It might be interesting to touch on the experiences of our friend James
Pigg, for this pony can only be described as a quaint but friendly little
rogue. He and Keohane seemed to have their own jokes apart from us. We
were left to ourselves on the 27th February, while Scott, as stated,
pushed forward to Safety Camp, "we," meaning Atkinson, Forde, Keohane,
and myself. We were kept in camp on the 27th by a strong blizzard, and
the next day when the weather abated, during our forenoon march James
Pigg fell into a crevasse, quite a small one, and his girth, through so
much high feeding, jammed him by his stomach and prevented him falling
far down. The whole situation was ridiculous. We parbuckled him out by
means of the Alpine rope, which was quickly detached from the sledge,
James Pigg taking a lively interest in the proceedings, and finally
rolling over on his back and kicking himself to his feet as we four
dragged him up to the surface. This done, Keohane looking very Irish and
smiling, bent over and peered down into the bluey depths of the crevasse
and, to our intense amusement, James Pigg strolled over alongside of him
and hung his head down too. He then turned to Keohane, who patted his
nose and said, "That was a near shave for you, James Pigg!"
We got to Safety Camp on the evening of March 1 and found two notes from
Captain Scott directing us to make for Hut Point via Castle Rock, and
notifying us that the sea ice was all on the move. We had an interesting
climb next day, but a very difficult one, for we were on the go from 9
a.m. until after 11 that night. First we found our way over the Barrier
Ice to the foot of the slope leading up to the ice ridge northward of
Castle Rock. Here we tethered James Pigg and spent some hours getting our
gear and sledges up the slope. We had no crampons for this work as they
were all on Scott's own sledge, so that it was necessary at times to pull
up the slopes on hands and knees, assisted by our ski sticks, an unusual
procedure but the only one possible to employ on the steeper blue ice. We
took the sledges up one by one and then went down with an Alpine rope to
help James Pigg. We found the pony very bored at our long absence; he
neighed and whinnied when we came down to him, and, to our great
surprise, went up the long, steep slope with far greater ease than we did
It was out of the question for us to proceed the four and a half miles
along the ridges which led down to Hut Point, for darkness had set in and
we had no wish to repeat the performance of an earlier expedition when a
man lost his life hereabouts through slipping right over one of these
steep slopes into the sea on the western side of the promontory ridge
which terminates at Hut Point.
It was snowing when we turned in and still snowing on March 3 when we
turned out of our sleeping-bags. James Pigg, quite snug, clothed in his
own, Blossom's, and Bluecher's rugs, had a little horseshoe shelter built
up round him. We did not know at this time of the pony disaster, but,
thinking Captain Scott might be anxious if he got no word as to our
whereabouts or movements, Atkinson and I started to march along the ice
ridges of Castle Rock and make our way to Hut Point. It was blowing hard
and very cold, but the joy of walking on firm ice without a sledge to
drag was great. When finally we came to the old "Discovery" hut at lunch
time, we found Wilson, Meares, and Gran in very low spirits. They told us
that Bowers and Cherry-Garrard were adrift on an ice floe and the
remainder of the party had gone to the rescue along the Barrier edge. We
were much downcast by this news, and after a meal of biscuit and tea,
started back for our camp. The weather was now clearer, and we could see
some way out over the Barrier; we could also see the sea looking very
blue against the white expanse of ice.
On the way back we discussed a plan and arranged that we should leave
Keohane with the pony, take a sledge, and make our way along the ice edge
of the Barrier searching for Scott and joining up with him, but just
before descending to the hollow where our tent was we spied a sledge
party on the Barrier and, on reaching our camp, were delighted to see
through my telescope six men. Thank God! This meant that all were safe.
We went out to meet the party, reaching them about 8 p.m. where they had
camped, a couple of miles from Cape Armitage, between two pressure ridges
that formed great frozen waves. Bowers told me that when Scott's party
attempted to save the horses at the Barrier edge, rotten ice and open
water leads were the cause of their downfall, and when the horses slipped
into the sea, that he had been compelled to kill his own pony with a
pickaxe to save him being taken alive by one of the Orcas or Killer
whales. The only horse saved was Captain Scott's, one of the best we had
in that Expedition.
I think the Irish sailors must have spoilt James Pigg, for, when
eventually we got Scott's sledge loads up to the hill-crest where our
camp was, James Pigg, instead of welcoming the other pony, broke adrift,
and jumping into the new-comer's shelter, leapt on him, kicked him and
bit him in the back. On March 5 we all started for Hut Point, having
previously sent in Atkinson with the good news that no men's lives were
lost. Wilson and party met us near Castle Rock and led the ponies in
while we dropped the laden sledges, full of pony harness, tents, and
sledging gear, with a sufficiency of pony fodder for a fortnight, down
the ski-slope to Hut Point. It was a fine bit of toboganning and Captain
Scott showed himself to be far more expert than any of us in controlling
a sledge on a slippery slope.
We soon got into the way of climbing around on seemingly impossible
slopes and could negotiate the steepest of hills and the slipperiest of
steep inclines. It was largely a question of good crampons, which we
The month of March and the first half of April, 1911, proved to be the
most profitless and unsatisfactory part of the Expedition. This was due
to a long compulsory wait at Hut Point, for we could not cross the
fifteen miles that lay between our position there and the Cape Evans
Station until sea ice had formed, which could be counted on not to break
away and take us into the Ross Sea in its northward drift. Time after
time the sea froze over to a depth of a foot or even more and time and
again we made ready to start for Cape Evans to find that on the day of
departure the ice had all broken and drifted out of sight. As it was, we
were safely, if not comfortably, housed at Hut Point, with the two dog
teams and the two remaining ponies, existing in rather primitive fashion
with seal meat for our principal diet. By the end of the first week in
March we had converted the veranda, which ran round three sides of the
old magnetic hut, into dog and pony shelters, two inner compartments were
screened off by bulkheads made of biscuit cases, a cook's table was
somehow fashioned and a reliable stove erected out of petrol tins and
scrap-iron. Our engineers in this work of art were Oates and Meares. For
a short while we burnt wood in the stove, but the day soon came when seal
blubber was substituted, and the heat from the burning grease was
sufficient to cook any kind of dish likely to be available, and also to
heat the hut after a fashion.
Round the stove we built up benches to sit on for meals, and two sleeping
spaces were chosen and made snug by using felt, of which a quantity had
been left by Scott's or Shackleton's people. The "Soldier" and Meares
unearthed same fire bricks and a stove pipe from the debris heap outside
the hut and then we were spared the great discomfort of being smoked out
whenever a fire was lit. An awning left by the "Discovery" was fixed up
by several of us around the sleeping and cooking space, and although
rather short of luxuries such as sugar and flour, we were never in any
great want of good plain food.
On March 14 the depot party was joined by Griffith Taylor, Debenham,
Wright, and Petty Officer Evans.
Taylor's team had been landed by the "Terra Nova" on January 27, after
the start of the depot party, to make a geological reconnaissance. In the
course of their journeying they had traversed the Ferrar Glacier and then
come down a new glacier, which Scott named after Taylor, and descended
into Dry Valley, so called because it was entirely free from snow.
Taylor's way had led him and his party over a deep fresh-water lake, four
miles long, which was only surface frozen--this lake was full of algae.
The gravels below a promising region of limestones rich in garnets were
washed for gold, but only magnetite was found. When Taylor had thoroughly
explored and examined the region of the glaciers to the westward of Cape
Evans, his party retraced their footsteps and proceeded southward to
examine the Koettlitz Glacier. Scott had purposely sent Seaman Evans with
this party of geologists, reasoning with his usual thoughtfulness that
Evans's sledging experience would be invaluable to Taylor and his
Taylor and his party made wonderful maps and had a wonderful store of
names, which they bestowed upon peak, pinnacle, and pool to fix in their
memories the relative positions of the things they saw. Griffith Taylor
had a remarkable gift of description, and his Antarctic book, "The Silver
Lining," contains some fine anecdotes and narrative.
According to Taylor's chart the Koettlitz Glacier at its outflow on to
the Great Ice Barrier is at least ten miles wide. The party proceeded
along the north of the glacier for a considerable distance, sketching,
surveying, photographing, and making copious notes of the geological and
physiographical conditions in the neighbourhood, and one may say
fearlessly that no Antarctic expedition ever sailed yet with geologists
and physicists who made better use of the time at their disposal,
especially whilst doing field work.
This party hung on with their exploration work until prudence told them
that they must return from the Koettlitz Glacier before the season closed
in. Their return trip led them along the edge of the almost impenetrable
pinnacle of ice which is one of the wonders of the Antarctic. Their
journey led them also through extraordinary and difficult ice-fields that
even surprised the veteran sledger Evans. Their final march took them
along the edge of the Great Ice Barrier and brought them to Hut Point on
We now numbered sixteen at this congested station; the sun was very
little above the horizon and gales were so bad that spray dashed over the
small hut occasionally, whilst all round the low-lying parts of the coast
wonderful spray ridges of ice were formed. We had our proportion of
blizzard days and suffered somewhat from the cold, for it was rarely
calm. Some of us began to long for the greater comforts of the Cape Evans
Hut; there was no day, no hour in fact, when some one did not climb up
the hillock which was surmounted by the little wooden cross put up in
memory of Seaman Vince of the "Discovery" expedition, to see and note the
Winter was coming fast and night shadows of cruel dark purple added to
the natural gloom of Hut Point and its environments. Wilson was the one
man amongst us who profited most from our sojourn here. In spite of bad
light and almost frozen fingers he managed to make an astonishing
collection of sketches, portraying the autumn scenes near this corner of
Ross Isle. How sinister and relentless the western mountains looked, how
cold and unforgiving the foothills, and how ashy gray the sullen icefoots
that girt this sad, frozen land.
There was, of course, no privacy in the crowded hut-space, and when
evening came it was sometimes rather a relief to get away to some
sheltered corner and look out over the Sound. The twilight shades and
colours were beautiful in a sad sort of way, but the stillness was awful.
Whenever the wind fell light new ice would form which seemed to crack and
be churned up with every cat's-paw of wind. The currents and tidal
streams would slowly carry these pancakes of ice up and down the Strait
until the weather was calm enough and cold enough to cement them together
till they formed floes, which in their turn froze fast into great white
icefields strong enough to bear us and any weights we liked to take
along. One often turned in, confident that a passage could be made over
the frozen sea to Glacier Tongue at least, but in the morning everything
would be changed and absolutely no ice would be visible floating in the
sea. When Taylor's party had rested a little at Hut Point they threw in
their lot with the rest of us and made occasional trips out on the silent
Barrier as far as Corner Camp, to add sledge loads of provisions now and
again to the stores already depoted there in readiness for the southern
sledge journey, on which we built our hopes for ultimate triumph.
Eight of us went out for a week's sledging on March 16, but the
temperatures were now becoming too low to be pleasant and touching 40
degrees or so below zero. What tried us more than anything else was thick
weather and the fearfully bad light on days when no landmarks were
visible to guide us to the depot. Our sleeping-bags also were frozen and
uncomfortable, thick rime collecting on the insides of our tents which
every puff of wind would shake down in a shower of ice. When sitting
round on our rolled-up sleeping-bags at meal times we could not help our
heads and shoulders brushing off patches of this frost rime, which soon
accumulated in the fur of the sleeping-bags and made life at night a
clammy misery. The surfaces were very heavy, and dragging even light
sledges when returning from the depot proved a laborious business.
This autumn time gave a series of gales and strong winds with scarcely
ever more than a few hours of calm or gentle breeze, sandwiched in
between. Sometimes we used ski, but there are occasions when ski are
quite useless, owing to snow binding in great clogs underneath them. The
Norwegians use different kinds of paraffin wax and compositions of tar
and other ingredients for overcoming this difficulty. Gran had brought
from Christiania the best of these compositions, nevertheless there were
days when whatever we put on we had difficulty with ski and had to cast
them aside. There were people who preferred foot-slogging to ski at any
time, and there were certainly days when teams on foot would literally
dance round men pulling on ski. In the light of experience, however, the
expert ski-runner has enormous advantage over the "foot-slogger," however
good an athlete.
What strikes me here is the dreadful similarity in weather condition,
wind, temperature, etc., surface and visibility to that which culminated
in the great disaster of our expedition and resulted in poor Scott's
death exactly a year later. Here is a day taken haphazard from my diary:
"From Corner Camp to Hut Point:
"March 18, 1911.--Called the hands at 6.15 and after a fine warming
breakfast started off on ski. The light was simply awful and the
surface very bad, but we did six miles, then lunched. After lunch
carried on with a strong wind blowing, but after very heavy dragging
we were forced to camp when only nine and a half miles had been laid
between us--we really couldn't see ten yards. Just after we camped the
wind increased to about force 6, alternately freshening up and dying
away, and a good deal of snow fell. Temperature 32.5 below zero."
One year later Scott was facing weather conditions and surfaces almost
identical, but the difference lay in that he had marched more than
sixteen hundred miles, was short of food, and his party were suffering
from the tragic loss of two of their companions and the intense
disappointment of having made this great sledge journey for their
country's honour to find that all their efforts had been in vain, and
that they had been anticipated by men who had borne thither the flag of
When Scott found that we sledgers were getting temperatures as low as
minus forty he decided to discontinue sledging rather than risk anything
in the nature of severe frostbite assailing the party and rendering them
unfit for further work, for it must be remembered that we had already
been away from our base ten weeks, that many of us had never sledged
before, and that the depot journey was partly undertaken to give us
sledging experience and to point out what improvements could be made in
our clothing and equipment.
The first and second weeks in April brought the ice changes that we had
so long awaited, and after one or two false starts two teams set out from
Hut Point on April 11 to make their way across the fifteen miles of sea
ice to Cape Evans.
This turned out to be a somewhat hazardous journey, since it had to be
made in the half light with overcast weather and hard wind. Scott took
charge of one tent and had with him Bowers, Griffith Taylor, and Petty
Officer Evans, while I had in my party Wright, Debenham, Gran, and Crean.
The seven who remained at Hut Point in charge of dogs and ponies helped
us out a league or so for the first part of our journey.
The route led first up the steep ice slope over-hanging Hut Point, and
then to the summit of the ridge, which is best described as the Castle
Rock promontory. Our sojourn at Hut Point had given us plenty of chance
to learn the easier snow roads and the least dangerous, and Scott chose
the way close eastward of Castle Rock to a position four miles beyond it,
which his first expedition had named Hutton Cliffs. From Castle Rock
onward the way took us to the westward of two conical hills which were
well-known landmarks--a hitherto untrodden route--but the going was by no
means bad. Bitingly cold for faces and finger-tips, still, no weights to
impede us. We camped for lunch after covering seven miles, for the light
was bad, but it improved surprisingly whilst we were eating our meal.
Accordingly, we put on our crampons about 3 p.m. and struck camp,
securely packing the two green tents on the sledges, and casting a
careful eye round the loads, tightened a strap here, hitched there, and
then led by Scott we made a careful descent to the precipitous edge of
the ice cap which overlays the promontory. We got well down to a part
that seemed to overhang the sea and, to our delight, found a good
solid-looking ice-sheet below us which certainly extended as far as
Glacier Tongue. The drop here was twenty-five feet or so and Taylor and I
were lowered over the cornice in an Alpine rope, then Wright and then the
sledges, after that the remainder of the party. An ash-pole was driven
into the snow and the last few members sent down in a bowline at one end
of the rope whilst we below eased them down with the other part. The two
parts of the Alpine rope working round the pole cut deeply into the
over-hanging snow and brought a shower of ice crystals pouring over the
heads and shoulders of whoever was sitting in the bowline. It was a good
piece of work getting everything down safely, and I admired Scott's
decision to go over; a more nervous man would have fought shy because,
once down on the sea ice there was little chance of our getting back and
we had got to fight our way forward to Cape Evans somehow.
When Taylor and I got first down we were greeted with a weird and
wonderful sight: constant drifts of snow had formed a great overhang and
the ice cliff was wreathed in a mass of snowy curtains and folds which
took all manner of fantastic turns and shapes. A fresh wind was blowing
continuously that made it most unpleasant for those above, and it was a
relief to us all when the last man was passed down in safety, it was
We quickly harnessed up again and swung out over the sea ice towards
Glacier Tongue, the cliffs of which stood out in a hard, white line to
the northward, a couple of miles away. Arrived at the Tongue, Bowers and
I clambered up a ten-foot cliff face by standing on Wright's and Crean's
shoulders. We then reached down and hauled up the sledges and the others,
harnessed up again, and proceeded to cross the Glacier, which was full of
small crevasses. We reached the northern side of it and went down an easy
snow slope to the sea ice beyond. As far as one could see this ice
continued right up to and around Cape Evans, seven miles away to the N.W.
It was now 6.30 p.m.; Scott halted us and discussed our readiness to make
a night march into the winter quarters. There was not one dissentient
voice, and we gladly started off at 8 o'clock for a night march to our
snug and comfortable hut, picturing to ourselves a supper of all things
luxurious. Our feet seemed suddenly to have taken wings, but, alas, the
supper was not to be, for thick weather set in, and when, by 10 o'clock
the wind was blowing hard and it was pitch dark, Scott suddenly decided
to camp under the shelter of Little Razorback Island, where by that time
we had arrived. We passed a filthy night here, for the snow on the sea
ice was saturated with brine and, in no time, our sleeping-bags became
wet and sticky.
Next day we were called at six to find a blizzard with a high drift
making it impossible to move, so we remained in our bags until 4 p.m.,
when we shifted on to the narrow platform of rock situated on the south
side of Little Razorback. We had one small meal here, but our condition
was not a pleasant one, since little food remained and fuel was short.
There was undoubtedly a chance that the sea ice would break up and drift
away in this high wind. Had that happened we should have been left to
starve on the tiny island. The position was not an enviable one. We got
back into our bags, which were, as stated, wet and beastly, after a
scanty supper and tried to sleep, but our feet were wet too, and cold, so
that few of us could do more than close our eyes. The night passed slowly
enough, and we turned out at 7 a.m. to cook what remained of our food
before attempting to make Cape Evans. We were glad that it had stopped
snowing and, although the light was bad enough, we could just make out
the ice foot showing up bold and white on the south side of the Cape.
After the meal we struck camp, formed marching order, and started half
running for winter quarters. Covering a couple of miles we found, to our
great relief, that the fast ice not only extended up to the Cape but
right round into North Bay. We soon sighted the hut, and shortly after
saw some people working outside. Directly they saw us in they ran to
bring the others out at full speed, and coming to meet us they cheered
and greeted us, then hauled our sledges in. It appeared they were unable
to recognise any of us owing to our dirty and dishevelled state. This was
not to be wondered at, for we had not washed nor had we shaved for eighty
days: We all talked hard and exchanged news. Ponting lined us up to be
photographed--the first nine Bolshevists--we looked such awful
Now, April 13, 1911, as communication had been established between Hut
Point and Cape Evans, we settled down for the winter. I shall never
forget the breakfast that Clissold prepared for us at 10.30 that morning.
It was delicious--hot rolls, heaps of butter, milk, sugar, jam, a fine
plate of tomato soup, and fried seal cooked superbly. The meal over, we
shaved, bathed, and put on clean clothes, smoked cigarettes, and took a
day's holiday. At 10 o'clock that evening, by prearrangement, Very's
lights were fired to let them know at Hut Point of our safe arrival. Our
own signal was answered by a flare. Gramophone records were dug out and
we lazily listened to Melba singing and to musical comedy tunes, those
who had energy and sufficient inclination got the pianola going, and
finally each man unfolded his little story to another member of the
Expedition who had taken no part in the sledging.
Captain Scott was delighted at the progress made by those left in our hut
under Dr. Simpson, everything was in order, the scientific programme in
full swing, and nothing in the shape of bad news beyond the loss of an
ill-tempered pony called Hackenschmidt, and one more dog that appeared to
have died from a peculiar disease--a minute thread-worm getting to his
brain, this according to Nelson who had conducted the post-mortem.
ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE WINTER
Less than a fortnight from the day of our return to Cape Evans, on April
23 to be exact, the sun left us to remain below the horizon for four long
weary months. Of course, there was a considerable amount of twilight, and
even on midwinter's day at noon there was some gray light in the north.
Different people took the winter in different fashion, according to their
temperaments. There were some who never could have faced a second winter
with any degree of cheerfulness, but taking it all round, we did well
enough, and when summer came again our concrete keenness and zeal had not
one whit abated. That is especially true in the case of those who were
chosen to make the great journey southward, even though it was obvious
that certain members could only accompany their leader for a mere
fraction of the great white way.
During the four months' winter darkness each one occupied himself with
his special subject, and Dr. Wilson not only proved himself to be an
efficient chief of our scientific staff, but a sound friend and companion
to the executive members, Bowers, Oates, Meares, and myself. Uncle Bill
was our Solomon and it was to him that we all went for sympathy and
practical advice. It was to him the staff went, that is to say, the
officers and scientists, for the smoothing over of those little
difficulties, roughnesses, and unevennesses that were bound to arrive
from time to time during the course of winter. The sailors came more to
Bowers, Oates, and myself, for, in their conservative naval way, they
could never quite get over the fact that the hut was not a ship and that
there were other members who, although they had never come under any sort
of naval or military discipline, were men of greater age and experience
in fending for themselves than youngsters like Bowers and myself. Still,
things went beautifully, and so they should have, when one considers the
great care our leader had exercised in the selection of his personnel.
If Scott had had his choice again and if he had been allowed to select
from the whole world, one can say without hesitation he would have chosen
Wilson to captain our splendid scientific team and to be his human book
of reference. Wilson was more nearly Scott's own age than the other
important members of this enterprise, and Wilson, it must be remembered,
had pulled shoulder to shoulder with Scott on his southern sledge journey
Before taking a peep at the individuals forming the rest of our party and
at their delicate scientific work at the base station, I must not forget
to mention that Scott, with his indomitable energy, was away again four
days after his return to Cape Evans with Bowers, Crean, and five fresh
men to Hut Point for the dual purpose of replenishing that station with
fuel, lighting material, etc., and getting those who should be at Cape
Evans for certain work and duty back there. Scott returned by the way we
had come, i.e. the Glacier Tongue-Castle Rock route, and then left the
dog-boy with Meares to take charge of these animals, Lashly and Keohane
to nurse and exercise the two ponies, and Nelson and Forde to get into
the way of winter roughing it, besides which he left Day over at Hut
Point, where his clever fingers found plenty to do to ameliorate the
condition of those living there. Day had learnt much under Shackleton in
these parts, and by some of us he was nicknamed "Handy Andy." Meares was
now appointed "Governor of Hut Point." As a matter of fact he and his
dogs were better off here than at Cape Evans, because the dogs could use
the big sheltered verandas already mentioned, whereas they had no such
shelter at Cape Evans.
Scott was back in the hut by April 21, having left Meares definite orders
that James Pigg and Punch the ponies were not to leave Hut Point for Cape
Evans until the entire journey could be made over the sea ice under
conditions of absolute safety. This meant a wait of three weeks to a
month before everything suited, and the "Governor of Hut Point" did not
come in until the 13th May, when he arrived in pomp and splendour with
all the dogs and the two ponies fit and well--his party, black with soot
and blubber, their wind-proof clothing smelly and greasy, a dirty but
robust and cheerful gang.
A glance at the accompanying plan shows whereabout we worked. Starting at
the left hand top corner we find Simpson's laboratory, and we usually
found Simpson in it at work, always at work, except when he was engaged
in scientific argument or when, just after lunch, he stretched himself
out on his bunk at the end of a large cigar! Simpson was no novice to
work in the frigid zones, for he had already wintered within the Arctic
circle in northern Norway. Weather did not worry him much nor apparently
did temperatures, for since his investigations midst the snows of the
Vikings' land, Simpson had worked extensively in India. His enduring good
humour and his smiling manner earned for him the sobriquet of Sunny Jim.
In the first year the self-registering instruments that found themselves
in Simpson's corner, or in the small hut which contained his magnetic
observatory, gave us an admirable record of temperatures, barometric
pressures, wind force and direction, atmospheric electricity, sunshine
when the sun did shine, and the elements of terrestrial magnetism. Thanks
to Simpson, we also had investigations of the upper air currents, aurora
observations, atmospheric optics, gravity determination and what is more,
some fine practical teaching that enabled the various sledging units
properly to observe and collect data of meteorological importance.
Simpson's place was essentially at the base station; and his consequent
work as physicist and meteorologist prevented him from taking an active
part in our sledge journeys. When he was recalled to Simla in 1912 his
work was ably continued by Wright, our Canadian chemist, who, as I have
said elsewhere, accompanied us south to make a special study of ice
structure and glaciation.
Wright lived in the bunk above Simpson's, and when not devoting his
energy and magnificent physique to sledging and field work, he gave
himself up to the study of ice physics, a somewhat new scientific line of
research. Wright was originally introduced to the Expedition by Griffith
Taylor, and Scott, advised by Wilson, was so keen on the inclusion of
this young Canadian chemist in our scientific staff that really the study
of ice structure and glaciation was made for Wright and his science
coined for him. He photographed ice flowers formed in the sea, he found
out how long ice took to freeze down our way, cast aspersions on the
bearing capabilities of our beloved sea ice and, generally, brought his
intelligence to bear in a way that commanded the approbation of Wilson
and our chief. Wright was one of the strongest members of our Expedition,
and he had the most powerful flow of language. He made some beautiful
photographs of ice crystals and surprised the simple sailor like myself
with his ability as a navigator and astronomer.
Moving along from Wright and Simpson we come to Nelson and Day. Teddy
Nelson, our marine biologist, did both winters at Cape Evans, and he not
only carried out biological work but studied the tides. His corner was
pleasant to look upon, with its orderly row of enamelled and china trays
and dishes. During the winter months holes were made in the sea ice
through which were lowered tow-nets, for collecting drifting organisms
and so on. Special thermometers of German make were lowered by Nelson
through the ice holes to get sea temperatures, and likewise reversing
water bottles were employed to obtain samples of sea-water daily.
Day, the motor engineer, was responsible for the lighting by acetylene.
He was wonderfully clever as a mechanic and also a good carpenter. He
took charge of our petrol, paraffin, and spirit store, and was never idle
for a minute.
Moving along to the right we come to the last cubicle, where the
"Rubbleyubdugs" lived. These were Tryggve Gran, Griffith Taylor, and
Frank Debenham. (All libel actions in connection with the Ubdugs I am
prepared to settle out of port in the long bar at Shanghai.) Quoting from
the "South Polar Times": "'The Ubdug Burrow' is festooned with kodaks,
candles and curtains; they (the Ubdugs) are united by an intense love of
the science of autobiography, their somewhat ambiguous motto is 'the pen
is mightier than the sword, but the tongue licks them both!'" Griffith
Taylor and Debenham were both Australians: the former was probably the
wittiest man in the Expedition, and, in my opinion, the cleverest
contributor to the "South Polar Times," excepting of course the artistic
side. The "South Polar Times" was our winter magazine, beautifully
illustrated by Wilson's water colours and Ponting's photographs. Taylor's
motto was "Advance, Australia!"--most certainly he helped it to. People
were always welcome in the Ubduggery, where they seemed to have an
unlimited supply of cigarettes and good novels.
Debenham was certainly nurse to the Ubdugs, that is to say he was the
least untidy, but then of course he was the smallest. In this cubicle the
most voluminous of diaries were kept, and at least two books have been
published therefrom. Gran kept his diary mostly in Norwegian, but there
were many words coined in our Expedition which had no Scandinavian
equivalent, and Gran failed to translate them, in spite of his having
more imagination than any one amongst us.
Crossing over the hut to the cubicle opposite one arrives at the somewhat
congested space in which Cherry-Garrard was housed, with Bowers above
him. In their corner were store lists, books, and mystery bags which
contained material for the "South Polar Times," toys and frivolous
presents to liven us up at the midwinter and other festivities. Bowers
and Cherry-Garrard were, in a way, worse off than the others, for they
had the darkest part of the hut, yet in this gloomy tenement all kinds of
calculations were made and much other good work done.
Oates came next, with his bunk more free of debris than anybody else's,
for he was the horse man, pure and simple, and his duties freed him from
that superabundance of books, instruments, stationery, specimens, charts,
and what-not with which we others had surrounded ourselves. Any spare
gear he kept in the saddle room, a specially cleared space in the
stables, where he was assisted by the little Russian groom, Anton, who
soon became devoted to his hard-working and capable master. The two men,
so unlike in appearance and character, etc., and such miles apart in
social standing and nationality, worked shoulder to shoulder in the
stables throughout the long winter night. By the dim candle-light which
illuminated our pony-shelter, one could see Oates grooming his charges,
clearing up their stall, refitting their harness, and fixing up the
little improvements that his quick, watchful eye continually suggested.
At the far end of his stables he had a blubber stove, where he used to
melt ice for the ponies' drinking water and cook bran mashes for his
animals. Here he would often sit and help Meares make dog pemmican out of
seal meat--they made about 8 cwt. of this sustaining preparation.
Moving along from the Chateau, Oates, Meares's and Atkinson's two bunks
came next, Meares above and Atkinson below. These two sleeping berths
likewise were not conspicuous by any superfluity of scientific oddments,
for Meares's work took him outside of the hut as a rule, unless he was
engaged in making dog harness. Meares and Oates were the greatest
friends, and these two, Atkinson, Cherry-Garrard and Bowers, were, if I
remember rightly, known collectively as the Bunderlohg. Although
numerically superior to their _vis-a-vis_, the Ubdugs, and always ready
to revile them, the Ubdugs kept their end up and usually came out
victorious in discussions or in badinage.
Finally, the Holy of Holies, where Captain Scott and the library occupied
one end and Uncle Bill and myself the far corner, with the ceaselessly
ticking chronometers and many sledging watches. There was an air of
sanctity about this part: all the plotting was done here, charts made and
astronomical observations worked out. Wilson worked up his sketches at
the "plotting table," interviewed the staff here, and above his bunk kept
a third of the shore party's library. We had two comfortable trestle beds
up our end and our leader also had a bed in preference to the
built-up bunk adopted by most of the afterguard. Ours was the Mayfair
district: Wilson and I lived in Park Lane in those days, whilst Captain
Scott occupied Grosvenor Street! He had his own little table covered with
"toney" green linoleum, and also had a multiplicity of little shelves on
which to keep his pipes, tobacco, cigars, and other household gods. It
was well illuminated in this part, and, although, hung around with fur
mitts, fur boots, socks, hats and woollen clothing, there was something
very chaste about this very respectable corner. For the rest of it we had
our Arctic library, and the spare spaces on the matchboard bulkhead,
which fenced it on three sides, were decorated with photographs. In place
of eiderdown Scott's old uniform overcoat usually covered his bed, while
peeping out from under his sleeping place one could espy an emblem of
civilisation and prosperity in the shape of a very good suit-case.
The foregoing pages illustrate sufficiently the grouping of the
afterguard, and if one adds an anthracite stove, a 12 ft. by 4 ft. table,
a pianola, gramophone, and a score of chairs, with a small shelf-like
table squeezed in between the dark-room and Simpson's corner, one
completes the picture of the officers' quarters in the Cape Evans Hut.
A bulkhead of biscuit cases and so on divided us from the men's
accommodation. They were very well off, each seaman having a trestle bed
similar to Captain Scott's, unless he preferred to build a bunk for
himself, as one or two did. They had a table 6 ft. by 4 ft., and the cook
had a kitchen table 4 ft. square, and certainly no crew space was ever
provided on a Polar Expedition that gave such comfortable and cosy
THE WINTER CLOSES IN
The closing down of the Polar night was very swift now and the few hours
of gray daylight were employed collecting what data was required by
certain members for working on during the forthcoming days of darkness.
Young Gran was handed over to me to help with the survey work and
astronomical observations which had to be taken from time to time. He was
a most entertaining assistant. Without complaint, he stood patiently
shivering in that cutting winter wind whilst I swung around the
theodolite telescope and took angles for him to write down in my
notebook. I don't think anybody has made a triangulated survey under
conditions worse than we endured that epoch: the weather was beastly and
we spent much time dancing when nearly sick with cold, our fingers tucked
under our arms to recover their feelings. When one's extremities did get
frost-bitten it was no joke--frost-bitten finger tips gave us little
peace at night with their sharp burning pain.
The most interesting part of the survey work was what is known to the
surveyor as coast-lining. This meant walking along the edge of the sea
ice, fixing one's position by sextant angle every five hundred yards or
so, and sketching in a notebook the character and features of the ever
changing coast between the various "fixes." One could keep warm doing
this and one saw more of the land and ice formation than the others, for
it meant following carefully round-cape and glacier edge, penetrating
inlets and delineating every islet, promontory, cliff, and talus.
In spite of the cold, the gloom, and the sad whistling wind that heralded
the now fast approaching darkness, I felt glad to work with my sextant
and sketch-book under the shadow of those fantastic ice-foots hung round
with fringes of icicle. I loved to go with Gran into the deep bays and
walk for miles under the overhanging of the vast ice cliffs all purple in
the reflection of the early winter noon, and to come out sometimes as we
did on to the sea ice clear of a jutting glacier, to face suddenly
northward over the frozen sea where nothing but a great waste of ice
stretched away to meet the horizon and the rosy, copper glow of the
departed sun's rays. Some of the cloud effects at the end of April were
too wonderful for mere pen or brush to describe. To appreciate them one
must go there and see them, those wonderful half-light tints.
Then there were the ice caves and grottos which were formed in the
grounded icebergs that had overturned before we came, and the still more
wonderful caves in the ice-sheet where it over-rode Ross Island and
formed a cliff-face between Cape Evans and Glacier Tongue,
extraordinarily like the white chalk cliffs of Studland Bay I found them,
with here and there outstanding pinnacles which a little imagination
would liken to Old Harry Rocks when the gray light was on them.
At the most we could only take sextant and theodolite angles for two
hours on either side of noon, so Gran and I went without our lunch,
taking a few biscuits and some chocolate out with us on our survey days,
and as we worked farther and farther from our base we found it necessary
to start out in the darkness in order to take full advantage of what
light was vouchsafed us. It was good healthy work and we developed
glorious appetites, so that our mouths ran with water when perhaps we met
a couple of fellows leading the little white ponies on the sea ice for
exercise, and they told us what they had had for lunch and what was being
kept for us. We found it all most interesting and, although I detested
that sunless winter, I loved the changing scenery, which never seemed
monotonous when there was any daylight or moonlight. To mark our
"stations" we used red and black bunting flags, and they showed up very
well. We gave them all sorts of weird names, such as Sardine, Shark, and
so forth, and we knew almost to a yard their distances from one another,
as also their bearings, which helped us when we were overtaken by bad
weather. Eventually it became too dark for any survey work, but there was
always plenty to do indoors for the majority of us. Apart from our
specialist duties some one was always to be found who could give
employment to the willing--there were no idlers or unwilling folk amongst
us. Simpson, for example, would employ as many volunteers as he could get
to follow the balloons which he frequently sent up to record temperature
and pressure. To each of these balloons a fine silk thread was attached,
or rather the thread was attached to the little instrument it carried.
When any strain was put on the thread it broke the thread connecting the
small temperature and pressure instrument to the balloon, the former
dropped on to the ice and was recovered by one of the volunteers, who
followed the silk thread up until he came to the instrument where it had
fallen. One required good eyesight for this work as for everything else
down here, and I have never ceased to marvel at the way Cherry-Garrard
got about and worked so well when one considers that he was very
Everybody exercised generously, whether by himself on ski, leading a
pony, digging ice for the cook or ice to melt for the ponies' drinking
water, or even with a whole crowd playing rather dangerous football on
the sea ice north of Cape Evans.
When the real winter came I used to walk, after winding the chronometers,
until breakfast time to begin with. This gave me half an hour, then again
before lunch I would put on ski and go for a run with anybody who had not
a pony to exercise. The visibility was frequently limited, particularly
on overcast days; one would glide along over the sea ice, which was in
places wind-swept and in others covered with snow. Nothing in sight but
the gray-white shadow underfoot and the blue-black sky above, a streak or
band just a mere smudge of daylight in the north, but this would be
sufficient to give one direction to go out on. Then slowly, dim,
spectre-like shapes would appear which would gradually sort themselves
out into two lots, black and white--these were Titus's ponies--the white
shapes, the black were the men leading them. On they came, seemingly at a
great pace, and one heard a crunching noise as the hoofs of the ponies
trod down the snow crust, but one could not hear the footfalls of the
men. One exchanged a "Hallo" with the leading man and passed on until a
much bigger white shape loomed up in the obscurity of the noon-twilight,
the going underfoot changed and skis fetched up against a great lump of
ice which was scarcely discernible in the confusing darkness, and one
realised that what little light there was to the northward had been
blotted out by one of the big grounded icebergs. Directly one realised
which berg it was a new course would be shaped, say to the end of the
Barne Glacier; the cliffs of this reached, one proceeded homeward a
league to the hut. This could not be missed on the darkest day if the
coast-line was followed, and, at last, when stomach cried out like a
striking clock, one realised that it was 2 p.m. or so, and a little glow
indicated the whereabouts of the hut. Approaching it, one saw the tall
chimney silhouetted against the sky, then the black shapes which oddly
proclaimed themselves to be motor-sledges, store heaps or fodder dumps,
and finally the hut itself. One stumbled over the tide-crack and up on to
the much trodden snow which covered the Cape Evans's beach. Six or seven
pairs of skis stuck in the snow near the hut door indicated that most
people had come in to lunch, so there was need to haste. Off came one's
own skis, and with a lusty stab in they went heel downwards into the snow
alongside the other ones, so that when a new fall came they would stand
up vertically and be easily found again.
The sticks one took into the hut, because even in our well-appointed
family there were pirates who borrowed them and forgot to replace them.
Entering the hut after kicking much snow from boots one passed first
through the acetylene smelling porch--Handy Andy's pride--as we called
Day's gas plant, then in to the seamen's quarters, where the smell of
cooking delighted and the sight of those great, hefty sailors scoffing
the midday meal hustled one still more.
In the officers' half of the hut most people were already busy with their
knives and forks, two or three perhaps just sitting down, the night
watch-man probably sitting up on the edge of his bunk putting on his
slippers, and cheerfully accepting the friendly insults from his pals at
table who told him the date and year--down went ski-sticks on the bed,
room would be made at the table, and half a dozen dishes pushed your way,
and although the mess-traps were enamelled, the food you shuffled down
from the tin plate and the cocoa you lapped from the blue and white mug
had not its equal at the Carlton, the Ritz, or the Berkeley.
Concerning the night watchman and his duties, although we had so many
self-recording instruments, there were certain things which called for
attention during the silent hours. Aurora observations had to be made
which no instrument would record, movement of clouds had to be noted in
the meteorological log, the snow cleared from the anemometer and so
forth, then of course rounds had to be made in case of fire, ponies and
dogs visited, the galley fire lit or kept going according to
requirements, and so on. Night watch-keeping duty was only undertaken by
certain members chosen from the afterguard. Scott himself always took a
share in this, as he did in everything else that mattered. One came to
welcome the night on, for the attendant work was not very strenuous and
the eight hours' quietude gave the watchman a chance to write up a
neglected diary, to wash clothes, work out observations, and perhaps make
contributions to the "South Polar Times" undisturbed by casual
well-wishers who were not meant to see the article in question until the
day of publication. We were allowed to choose from the stores more or
less what we liked for consumption in the stillness of the night watch. I
always contributed special China or Ceylon tea for the benefit of the
lonely watchman--I had two big canisters of the beverage, a present from
one of our New Zealand well-wishers, Mrs. Arthur Rhodes of Christchurch,
and these lasted the afterguard watch-keepers through the Expedition.
The auroras were a little disappointing this first winter as seen from
Cape Evans, they were certainly better seen from the Barrier. We only got
golden bands and curtains splaying in the heavens, except for one or two
rare occasions when there were distinct green rays low down amongst the
shafts of weird light farthest from the zenith.
In view of the possibility of a second winter one kept a few letters
going which contained a little narrative of our work to date. We had most
imposing note-paper which was used for these occasions: the crest
consisted of a penguin standing on the South Pole with the southern
hemisphere underfoot, a garter surrounding this little picture inscribed
with "British Antarctic Expedition--'Terra Nova' R.Y.S." Alas, some of
the letters were never delivered, for death not only laid his hand upon
certain members of the Expedition, but also upon some of our older
friends, supporters, and subscribers.
One passed out of the hut hourly at least and, on moonlight nights
especially, one found something beautiful in the scenery about Cape
Evans. At full moon time everything turned silver, from towering Erebus
with gleaming sides to the smooth ice slopes of Ross Island in the
north-east, while away to the southward the high black Dellbridge Islands
thrust up from a sea of flat silver ice. Even the conical hills and the
majestic Castle Rock, fifteen miles away, stood out quite clearly on
occasions. The weirdest thing of all was to hear the dogs howling in the
middle of the night, they made one think of wolves and of Siberia.
All things considered, the winter passed quickly enough: we had three
lectures a week, and our professional occupations, our recreations and
different interests soon sped away the four months' winter darkness. The
lectures embraced the technical and the practical side of the Expedition;
thus, besides each of the scientific staff lecturing on his individual
subject, Oates gave us two lectures on the care and management of horses;
Scott outlined his plans for the great southern journey, giving probable
dates and explaining the system of supporting parties which he proposed
to employ; Ponting told us about Japan, and illustrated his subject with
beautiful slides made from photographs that he himself had taken; Bowers
lectured on Burma, until we longed to be there; and Meares gave us a
light but intensely interesting lecture on his adventures in the Lolo
country, a practically unknown land in Central Asia.
In connection with the work of Simpson at the base station, I must not
forget the telephones. Certain telephones and equipment sufficient for
our needs were presented to us in 1910 by the staff of the National
Telephone Co., and they were very largely used in scientific work at the
base station as well as for connecting Cape Evans to Hut Point, fifteen
miles away. Simpson made the Cape Evans-Hut Point connection in
September, 1911, by laying the bare aluminium wire along the surface of
the snow-covered sea ice, and for a long time there was no difficulty in
ringing up by means of magnetos. However, when the sun came back and its
rays became reasonably powerful, difficulty in ringing and speaking was
We used the telephones almost daily for taking time, and Simpson used to
stand inside the hut at the sidereal clock whilst I took astronomical
observations outside in the cold. We also telephoned time to the ice cave
in which the pendulums were being swung when determining the force of
gravity. Telephones were quite efficient in temperatures of 40 degrees
and more below zero.
Midwinter Day arrived on June 22, and here one must pay an affectionate
and grateful tribute to Bowers, Wilson, Cherry-Garrard, and Clissold the
To start with, we had to discuss whether we would hold the midwinter
festival on the 22nd or 23rd of June, because in reality the sun reached
its farthest northern Declination at 2.30 a.m. on the 23rd by the
standard time which we were keeping. We decided to hold it on the evening
of the 22nd, this being the dinner time nearest the actual culmination. A
Buszard's cake extravagantly iced was placed on the tea-table by
Cherry-Garrard, his gift to us, and this was the first of the dainties
with which we proceeded to stuff ourselves on this memorable day.
Although in England it was mid-summer we could not help thinking of those
at home in Christmas vein. The day here was to all intents and purposes
Christmas Day; but it meant a great deal more than that, it meant that
the sun was to come speeding back slowly to begin with, and then faster
and faster until in another four months or so we should find ourselves
setting out to achieve our various purposes. It meant that before another
year had passed some of us, perhaps all of us, would be back in
civilisation taking up again the reins of our ordinary careers which, of
necessity, would lead us to different corners of the earth. The
probability was that we should never all sit down together in a peopled
land, for Simpson was bound to be racing back to India with Bowers and
probably Oates, whose regiment was at Mhow; Gran would away to Norway,
and the other Ubdugs to Australia. One or two of us had been tempted to
settle in New Zealand, and the old Antarctics amongst us knew how useless
it had been to arrange those Antarctic dinners which never came off as
But to return to the menu for Midwinter Day. When we sat down in the
evening we were confronted with a beautiful water-colour drawing of our
winter quarters, with Erebus's gray shadow looming large in the
background, from the summit of which a rose-tinted smoke-cloud delicately
trended northward, and, standing out from the whole picture a neatly
printed tablet which proclaimed the nature of this much-looked-forward-to
Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.
Potatoes a la mode and Brussels Sprouts.
Plum Pudding. Mince Pies.
Crystallised fruits. Chocolate Bonbons.
Butter Bonbons. Walnut Toffee.
Almonds and Raisins.
Sherry, Champagne, Brandy Punch, Liqueur.
Cigars, Cigarettes, and Tobacco.
Pineapple Custard. Raspberry jellies.
and what was left of the Buszard's cake!
The menu was, needless to say, Wilson's work, the exquisite dishes
Clissold produced, the maitre d'hotel was Birdie, and Cherry-Garrard the
producer of surprises in the shape of toys which adorned the Christmas
Tree that followed on the dinner. Everybody got something from the tree,
which was in reality no tree at all, for it was a cleverly constructed
dummy, with sticks for branches and coloured paper leaves. Still, it
carried little fairy candles and served its purpose well.
Then I must not forget the greatest treat of all: an exhibition of slides
showing the life about our winter quarters and the general work of the
Expedition from the starting away in New Zealand to this actual day
almost in the hut. The slides were wonderful and they showed every stage
of the ice through which we had come and in which we lived. There were
penguin pictures, whales and seals, bird life in the pack, flash light
photographs of people and ponies, pictures of Erebus and other splendid
and familiar landmarks, and, in short, a magnificent pictorial record of
events, for Ponting had been everywhere with his camera, and it is only
to be regretted that the Expedition did not take him to the Pole. This
was, of course, impossible, when everything had to give way to food.
Following the photographic display and the Christmas Tree came the only
Antarctic dance we enjoyed. Few of us remember much about it for we were
very merry, thanks to the wine, and there was considerable horseplay. I
remember dancing with the cook whilst Oates danced with Anton. Everybody
took a turn, and associated with this dance I might mention that Clissold
so far forgot himself as to call Scott "Good old Truegg." Truegg was the
composition used by us for cooking in various ways omelets, buttered
eggs, puddings, and cakes of all kinds, and, although it was a great boon
to the Expedition, we had by this time tired of it. Still, we used it as
a term of endearment, but nobody in his sober senses would have dreamt of
calling our much respected Commander "Good old Truegg"; the brandy punch
must have been responsible for Clissold's mixing up of names! We had now
arrived at the stage when it was time to shut up, the officers became
interested in an aurora display and gradually rolled off to bed. It was
left to me to see the seamen turned in; they were good-humoured but
obstreperous, and not until 2 a.m. did silence and order once more reign
in the hut.
Very wisely our leader decided on June 23 being kept as a day of rest;
our digestions were upset and we took this time off to make and mend
clothes, and returned to our winter routine, a little subdued perhaps, on
So much for the winter life up to date; no great excitements, nothing
untoward, but a remarkable bonhomie obtaining in our little company
despite the tedium of so many days of winter gloom. On June 27 Dr. Wilson
with Bowers and Cherry-Garrard started on a remarkable journey to Cape
Crozier, nearly seventy miles distant from Cape Evans, via Hut Point and
the Barrier. The object of these intrepid souls was to observe the
incubation of the Emperor Penguins at their rookery, which was known to
exist near the junction point of the Barrier Edge with the rocky cliff
south of Cape Crozier. It must be borne in mind that this was the first
Antarctic midwinter journey, and that the three men must of necessity
face abnormally low temperature's and unheard of hardships whilst making
the sledge journey over the icy Barrier. We had gathered enough knowledge
on the autumn sledge journeys and in the days of the Discovery expedition
to tell us this, so that it was not without considerable misgivings that
Captain Scott permitted Wilson to carry the winter expedition to Cape
Crozier into being. The scope of my little volume only permits me to tell
this story in brief. No very detailed account has yet been published,
although Cherry-Garrard, the only survivor of the three, wrote the far
too modest memoir of the journey which has been published in Volume II of
"Scott's Last Expedition."
Apart from the zoological knowledge Wilson hoped to gain from the Cape
Crozier visit in mid-winter, there was a wealth of other information to
be collected concerning the Barrier conditions, particularly the
meteorological conditions, but above all we knew that with such quick and
reliable observers as Wilson and his companions we must derive additional
experience in the matter of sledging rations, for the party had agreed to
make experiments in order to arrive at the standard ration to be adopted
for the colder weather we must face during the second half of the
forthcoming Polar journey.
Wilson took two small 9 ft. sledges, and after being photographed was
helped out to Glacier Tongue by a small hurrah party. In the bad light he
was handicapped from the very first, and it took the party two days to
get on to the Ice Barrier. Their progress was dreadfully slow, which was
not to be wondered at, for they were pulling loads of 250 lb. per man,
the surfaces were beyond anything they had faced hitherto, and the
temperatures seldom above 60 degrees. Relay work had to be resorted to,
and in consequence the party took eighteen days to reach Cape Crozier.
They met with good weather, that is, calm weather, to begin with, but the
bad surfaces handicapped them severely. After rounding Cape Mackay they
reached a wind-swept area and met with a series of blizzards. Their best
light was moonlight, and they were denied this practically by overcast
skies. Picture their hardships: frozen bags to sleep in, frozen finnesko
to put their feet in every time they struck camp, finger-tips always
getting frost-bitten and sometimes toes and heels; no comfort was to be
derived within camp, for, at the best, they could only sit and shiver
when preparing the food, and once the bags were unrolled to sleep in more
trouble came. It is on record that Cherry-Garrard took as long as
three-quarters of an hour to break his way into his sleeping-bag, and
once inside it he merely shook and froze. The party used a double tent
for this journey, that is to say, a light lining was fitted on the inner
side of the five bamboo tent poles, so that when the ordinary wind-proof
tent cloth was spread over the poles an air space was provided. There
was, I may say, a sharp difference of opinion as to the value of the
tent; Wilson's party swore by it and Scott was always loud in its praise.
The sailors hated it and despised it; they always argued, when consulted
on the subject of the double tent, that it collected snow and rime and
added much to the weights we had to drag along. Perhaps they were right,
and I remember one occasion when two members of the Expedition dumped the
inner lining after carrying it many hundred miles with the remark,
"Good-bye, you blighter, you've had a damn good ride!"
The scene inside the little green tent baffles description: the three
men's breath and the steam from the cooker settles in no time on the
sides of the tent in a thick, white rime; the least movement shakes this
down in a shower which brings clammy discomfort to all; the dimmest of
light is given by the sledging lantern with its edible candle (for
Messrs. Price and Co. had made our candles eatable and not poisonous),
everything is frozen stiff, fur boots, bags and fur mitts break if
roughly handled, for they are as hard as boards. The cold has carved deep
ruts in the faces of the little company who, despite their sufferings and
discomforts, smile and keep cheerful without apparent effort. This
cheerfulness and the fragrant smell of the cooking pemmican are the two
redeeming features of a dreadful existence, but the discomforts are only
a foretaste of what is to come--one night the temperature fell to 77
degrees below zero, that is 109 degrees of frost. There is practically no
record of such low temperature, although Captain Scott found that Roald
Amundsen in one of his northern journeys encountered something nearly as
bad. One cannot wonder that Wilson's party scarcely slept at all, but
their outward experiences were nothing to what they put up with at Cape
Crozier, which was reached on July 15. To get on to the slopes of Mount
Terror near Crozier the party climbed over great pressure ridges and up a
steep slope to a position between the end of a moraine terrace and the
conspicuous hillock known as The Knoll. In the gap here the last camp was
made in a windswept snow hollow, a stone hut was constructed behind a
land ridge above this hollow, the party using a quantity of loose rocks
and hard snow to build with. Cherry-Garrard did most of the building,
while the others provided the material, for, in his methodical way,
Cherry had built a model hut before leaving Cape Evans. The hut was 800
ft. above sea-level, roofed with canvas, with one of the sledges as a
rafter to support the canvas roof.
On the 19th July the party descended by the snow slopes to the Emperor
penguin rookery. They had great trouble in making this descent, on
account of crevasses in the ice slopes which overhung the level way under
the rock cliffs. As a matter of fact, the attempt on the 19th proved
abortive, although the little band got close to the rookery. They reached
it successfully on the 20th when the light was almost failing, and were
mortified to find only about one hundred Emperor penguins in place of the
two or three thousand birds which the rookery had been found to contain
in the "Discovery" days. Possibly the early date accounted for the
absence of Emperors; however, half a dozen eggs were collected, and three
of these found their way home to England. Wilson picked up rounded pieces
of ice at the rookery which the stupid Emperors had been cherishing,
fondly imagining they were eggs; evidently the maternal instinct of the
Emperor penguin is very strong.
The party killed and skinned three birds and then returned to the shelter
of the stone hut, not without difficulty, it is true. It is worthy of
note that the three birds killed by the party were very thickly
blubbered, and the oil obtained from them burned well.
The Ross Sea was found to be frozen over as far as the horizon. When the
party got back to their shelter two eggs had burst and saturated
Cherry-Garrard's mitts. This optimistic young man found good even in
this, for he said that on the way home to Cape Evans his mitts thawed out
far more easily than Bowers's did, and attributed the little triumph to
the grease in the broken egg! That night they slept for the first time in
the stone hut; perhaps it was fortunate that they did so for it was
blowing hard and the wind developed into a terrific storm.
One of the hurricane gusts of wind swept the roof of the hut away, and
for two days the unfortunate party lay in their bags half smothered by
fine drifting snow. The second day was Dr. Wilson's birthday; he told me
afterwards that had the gale not abated when it did all three men must
have perished. They had not dared to stir out of the meagre shelter
afforded by their sleeping-bags. Wilson prayed hard that they might be
spared. His prayer was answered, it is true, but before another year had
passed two of this courageous little band lost their lives in their eager
thirst for scientific knowledge.
When the three men crept out of their bags into the dull winter gloom
they groped about and searched for their tent, which had blown away from
its pitch near the stone hut. By an extraordinary piece of good fortune
it was recovered, scarcely damaged, a quarter of a mile away.
Cherry-Garrard describes the roar of the wind as it whistled in their
shelter to have been just like the rush of an express train through a
Wilson, Bowers, and Cherry-Garrard started home after this, but were
caught by another blizzard, which imprisoned them in their tent for
another forty-eight hours. They were now running short of oil for warming
and cooking purposes, but the little party won through after a very rough
march full of horrible hardships and discomforts, and reached Cape Evans
on the 1st August, when they had faced the dreadful winter weather
conditions on the cruel Ice Barrier for five weeks. What forlorn objects
they did look: it was pathetic to see them as they staggered into the
hut. Wilson, when he could give a collected account of what he and his
party had faced, was loud in the praise of Birdy and Cherry.
The party were examined by Atkinson, who gave some direction and advice
concerning their immediate diet--they seemed to want bread, butter, and
jam most, and the little loaves provided by Clissold disappeared with
extraordinary speed. They were suffering from want of sleep, but were all
right in a few days. One of the remarkable features of this journey was
the increase of weights due to ice collecting in their sleeping-bags,
gear and equipment. Their three bags, which weighed forty-seven pounds on
leaving Cape Evans, had increased their weight to one hundred and
eighteen at the conclusion of the trip. Other weights increased in the
same proportion, and the sledge had dragged very heavily in consequence.
The three men when they arrived were almost encased with ice, and I well
remember undressing poor Wilson in the cubicle which he and I shared. His
clothes had almost to be cut off him.
From this journey, as stated, we evolved the final sledging ration for
the Summit, it was to consist of:
16 ozs. biscuit.
12 " pemmican.
3 " sugar.
2 " butter.
0.7 " tea.
0.6 " cocoa.
daily 34.3 ozs.
It may seem little enough for a hungry sledger, but, no one could
possibly eat that amount in a temperate climate; it was a fine filling
ration even for the Antarctic. The pemmican consisted of the finest beef
extract, with 60 per cent. pure fat, and it cooked up into a thick tasty
soup. It was specially made for us by Messrs. Beauvais of Copenhagen.
No casualties occurred during the winter, but Dr. Atkinson sustained a
severely frost-bitten hand on July 4 when we had one of our winter
blizzards. Certain thermometers had been placed in positions on the sea
ice and up on the Ramp by Simpson, and these we were in the habit of
visiting during the course of our exercise; the thermometer reading was
done by volunteers who signified their intention to Simpson in order to
avoid duplication of observation. On blizzard days we left them alone,
but Atkinson, seeing that the wind had modified in the afternoon,
zealously started out over the ice and was absent from dinner. Search
parties were sent in various directions, each taking a sledge with
sleeping-bags, brandy flask, thermos full of cocoa, and first-aid
equipment. Flares were lit and kept going on Wind Vale Hill, Simpson's
meteorological station overlooking the hut. Search was made in all
directions by us, and difficulty was experienced due to light snowfall.
Atkinson fetched up at Tent Island, apparently, which he walked round for
hours, and, in trying to make the Cape again, became hopelessly lost,
and, losing one of his mitts for a time, fell into a tide crack and did
not get home till close upon midnight. Search parties came in one by one
and were glad to hear the good news of Atkinson's return. My own party,
working to the south of Cape Evans, did not notice how time was passing,
and we--Nelson, Forde, Hooper, and myself--fetched up at 2 a.m. to be met
by Captain Scott and comforted with cocoa.
Atkinson's hand was dreadful to behold; he had blisters like great
puffed-out slugs on the last three fingers of his right hand, while on
the forefinger were three more bulbous-looking blisters, one of them an
inch in diameter. For days and days the hand had constantly to be
bandaged, P. O. Evans doing nurse and doing it exceedingly well.
Considering all things, we were fairly free of frostbite in the Scott
expedition, and there is no doubt that Atkinson's accident served as an
example to all of us to "ca' canny."
Although we had our proportion of blizzard days I do not think our
meteorological record showed any undue frequency of high wind and
blizzards; but, as Simpson in his meteorological discussion points out,
we suffered far more in this respect than Amundsen, who camped on the Ice
Barrier far from the land. It is a bitter pill to swallow, but in the
light of after events one is compelled to state that had we stuck to our
original plan and made our landing four hundred miles or so to the
eastward of Ross Island, we should have escaped, in all probability, the
greater part of the bad weather experienced by us. Comparison with
Framheim, Amundsen's observation station, shows that we at Cape Evans had
ten times as much high wind as the Norwegians experienced. Our wind
velocities reached greater speeds than 60 miles an hour, whereas there
does not appear to be any record of wind higher than 45 miles an hour at
Amundsen's base at the Bay of Whales. Some of our anemometer records were
very interesting. In the month of July, when Wilson's party was absent,
we recorded 258 hours of blizzards, that is, of southerly winds of more
than 25 miles an hour speed. This was the record for the winter months,
but while we were depot-laying and waiting for the sea to freeze over at
Hut Point, no less than 404 hours of blizzard were recorded in one
month--March. Think of it, well over half the month was blizzard, with
its consequent discomfort and danger. The blizzard which nearly caused
the loss of the Cape Crozier party measured a wind force up to 84 miles
an hour; no wonder the canvas roof of the stone hut there was swept away!
Our minimum temperature at the hut meteorological station was 50 degrees
below zero in July, 1911, and the maximum temperature during the winter
occurred in June when the thermometer stood as high as +19 degrees.
Our ten ponies stood the winter very well, all things being considered.
One nearly died with cramp, but he pulled round in extraordinary fashion
after keeping Oates and myself up all night nursing him. In spite of the
names we assigned to the animals, largely on account of their being
presented to us by certain schools, institutions, and individuals, the
ponies were called by names conferred on them by the sailors and those
who led them out for exercise. The ten animals that now survived were
James Pigg, Christopher, Victor, Nobby, Jehu, Michael, Snatcher, Bones,
Snippets, and a Manchurian animal called Chinaman, who behaved very badly
in that he was always squealing, biting, and kicking the other ponies. A
visitor to the stables, if he lent a hand to stir up the blubber which
was usually cooking there, found himself generally welcome and certain to
be entertained. Oates and Meares, his constant companions, had both
served through the South African War, and had many delightful stories to
tell of their experiences in this campaign; their anecdotes are not all
printable, but no matter. Of Oates it is correct to say that he was more
popular with the seamen than any other officer. He understood these men
perfectly and could get any amount of work out of them, this was a great
advantage, because he only had his Russian groom permanently to assist
him, and he generally used volunteer labour after working hours to carry
out his operations. In the two lectures he gave us on "The Care and
Management of Horses," to which reference has been made, Oates showed how
much time and thought he had devoted to his charges, and to the
forthcoming pony-sledge work over the Great Ice Barrier.
During the latter half of the winter Oates and I saw a good deal of one
another, as we daily exercised our ponies on the sea ice when Wilson's
party was away and afterwards also till the weather was light enough for
me to continue surveying. Oates led two ponies out generally--
Christopher, the troublesome, and Jehu, the indolent while the care of
the rogue pony, Chinaman, devolved on myself. When the ponies went well,
which was usually the case, when they did not suffer from the weather, we
used to have long yarns about our respective services and mutual friends.
Oates would often discuss the forthcoming southern journey, and his
ambition was to reach the top of the Beardmore Glacier; he did not expect
to be selected for the southern party, which was planned to contain four
men only--two of these must have special knowledge of navigation, to
check one another's observations--the third would be a doctor, and it was
expected that a seaman would be chosen for the fourth. So Oates was
convinced that he had no chance, never for a moment appreciating his own
By the spring the ponies were all ready to start their serious training
for the southern journey, and the proper leaders now took charge to daily
exercise their animals in harness. The older sledges were used with dummy
loads, varying in weight according to the condition and strength of the
pony. So well in fact and so carefully did Oates tend his charges, that
by the time they were required for the southern journey only Jehu caused
him any anxiety, even so this beast managed to haul a reasonable load for
a distance of nearly 280 miles.
As to the dogs, the list was as follows:
Poodle--killed during gale outward in ship.
Mannike Rabchick (Little Grouse)--died from fall into crevasse.
Vashka--died suddenly, cause unknown.
Sera Uki (Gray Ears)--died after cramp and paralysis of hind legs.
Seri do. do.
Deek do. do.
Stareek (Old Man)--sent back with first supporting party.
Deek the Wild One.
Biele Glas (White Eye).
Mannike Noogis (Little Leader).
Kesoi (One Eye).
Biela Noogis (White Leader).
Hohol (Little Russian).
Lappe Uki (Lap Ears).
Petichka (Little Bird).
Ostre Nos (Long Nose).
Chorne Stareek (Black Old Man).
_Note._--Borup and Peary were from the American North Polar Expedition
puppies. Borup was used in Dimitri's dog team which got right on to the
Beardmore Glacier, but Peary was never any use except for the other dogs
to sharpen their teeth on. He was a regular pariah.
Apart from the sledge dogs, we had a bitch called Lassie for breeding
purposes, but she was a rotten dog and killed her puppies, so we might as
well have left her in New Zealand, where we got her.
The dogs came through the winter very well, and during blizzards they
merely coiled themselves up into round balls of fur and let the snow
drift over them. Meares and Dimitri kept a very watchful eye over the dog
teams, and protected them against the prevailing winds with substantial
snow-shelters, always taking the weaker or sick animals into the annexe
where Birdie kept his stores, or else into the small dog hospital, which
was made by Dimitri and perfected by Meares.
The sun returned to us on the 22nd August. We were denied a sight of it
owing to bad weather, for on the 22nd and 23rd August we had a blizzard
with very heavy snowfall, and the drift was so great that, when it became
necessary to leave the hut for any purpose, the densely packed flakes
almost stifled us. We hoped to see the sun at noon on the 23rd when it
was denied us on the previous day, but no such luck, the sun's return was
heralded by one of our worst blizzards, which continued with very
occasional lulls until August 26, when we actually saw the sun, just a
bit of it. I saw the upper limb from out on the sea ice, and Sunny Jim at
the same time got a sight of it from his observatory hill. How glad we
were. We drank champagne to honour the sun, people made poetry concerning
it, some of which--Birdie Bowers's lines--found their way eventually into
the "South Polar Times." The animals went half dotty over it, frisking,
kicking, and breaking away even from their leaders; they seemed to
understand so well, these little ponies, that the worst part of the
winter was gone--poor ponies! Long before the sun again disappeared below
the northern horizon the ponies were no more.
There is not so very much in the statement that the sun had now returned,
but the fact, of little enough significance to those without the
Antarctic Circle, left something in our minds, an impression never to be
effaced--the snowed-up hut surrounded by a great expanse of white, the
rather surprised look an the dogs' faces, the sniffing at one's knees and
the wagging of tails as one approached to pat their heads, the twitching
of the ponies' ears and nostrils, and the rather impish attitude the
fitter animals adopted, the occasional kick out, probably meant quite
playfully, and above all the grins on the faces of the Russian grooms.
Yes, we were all smiling when the sun came back, even the horizon smiled
kindly at us from the north. The Barne Glacier's snout lost its
inexorable hard gray look and took on softer hues, and Erebus's slopes
were now bathed in every shade of orange, pink, and purple. To begin
with, we had very little of this lovely colouring, but soon the
gladdening tints stretched out over morning and afternoon. We were never
idle in the hut, but the sun's return seemed to make fingers lighter as
well as hearts.
SPRING DEPOT JOURNEY
However well equipped an expedition may be, there are always special
arrangements and adaptions necessary to further the labour-saving
contrivances and extend the radius of action.
For this reason the short autumn journeys had been undertaken to test the
equipment as well as to give us sledging experience and carry weights of
stores out on to the Barrier. And now that Wilson had added yet more
knowledge to what we were up against, we set Evans and his seamen
companions on to the most strenuous preparations for going South with
sledges. Thus, while one lot of men were skilfully fitting sledges with
convenient straps to secure the loads against the inevitable bumping,
jolting, and capsizing, and lashing tank-like contrivances of waterproof
canvas on, to contain the component units of food, another set of people
would be fastening light wicker or venesta boxes athwart the sledge ends
for carrying instruments and such perishable things as the primus stoves
and methylated spirit bottles. These sledges were under the particular
charge of Petty Officer Evans, and he took delightful pride in his
office. What little gray dawn there was enabled him gleefully to inspect
the completed sledges as they stood ready in their special groups outside
The more general type would be the 12 ft. sledge, constructed of light
elm with hickory runners. On it were secured venesta wood trays for the
tins of paraffin, usually in front, the aforesaid capacious canvas tank,
and behind everything the oblong instrument box surmounted by light
wooden chocks for holding the aluminium cooker.
All sledges had small manilla rope spans, secured in most seamanlike
fashion, to take the towing strain and throw it fairly through the
structure of these light but wonderfully strong sledges.
While the sledging equipment advanced, Bowers, aided by Cherry-Garrard,
sorted out the rations, which he weighed and packed in the most
business-like manner. Bowers was always well served, for he had the happy
knack of enlisting volunteers for whatever his particular purpose called.
By September 1 Scott must have felt that no portion of his preparations
was incomplete, for the travelling equipment had been taken in hand with
a thoroughness that was the outcome of zeal and thoughtful attention to
Previous to the departure of the large caravan for the Polar journey, a
spring journey was proposed for the purpose of laying a small depot at
Corner Camp and generally reconnoitring. On account of the low spring
temperatures no animals were used for this trip, which was carried out by
Gran, Forde, and myself.
We started on ski, pulling a heavy load of over six hundred pounds. We
marched from eight o'clock in the morning until nine at night, with a
short interval for lunch, and that first day out we covered twenty miles
and arrived on the Great Ice Barrier at the close of our march. The
Barrier in its bleak loneliness is probably the most desolate portion of
the earth's surface, with the possible exception of the high plateau
which forms the ice cap of the great Antarctic mountain ranges. Although
only twenty miles from our winter quarters at Cape Evans, the temperature
was 21 degrees lower, as we afterwards found by comparison.
We were all three anxious to acquit ourselves well, and although the
temperature on camping was 42 degrees below zero we had not experienced
any great discomfort until we encountered a sharp, cold breeze off Cape
Armitage, which resulted in Forde having his nose badly frost-bitten.
Directly this was noticed we quickly unpacked our sledge, erected our
tent, and whilst Gran cooked the supper I applied what warmth I could to
Forde's nose to bring the frozen part of it back to life.
Needless to say, the sharp air had keened our appetites, and we were all
eager for the fragrant smelling pemmican. We sat round on our rolled-up
fur sleeping-bags, warming our hands over the primus stove, and literally
yearning for the moment to arrive when the pemmican would boil and we
could absorb the delicious beverage and derive some badly needed warmth
therefrom. Following the pemmican and biscuit came a fine brew of cocoa.
This finished, the bags were unstrapped and laid out, when the three of
us soon curled up and, huddling together for warmth, endeavoured to get
to sleep. The thermometer, however, fell to 60 degrees below zero, and
the cold seemed to grip us particularly about the feet and loins. All
night we shivered and fidgeted, feeling the want of extra beat in the
small of our backs more than elsewhere. We got little or no sleep that
night, and my companions were as glad as I was myself when daylight came
and we got busy with our breakfast.
We arrived at the old pony-food depot, Safety Camp, during the forenoon
of September 9, and dug out the stores and bales of compressed hay, which
we carefully tallied and marked by setting up a large black flag. Then we
continued towards Corner Camp. We covered only eight or nine miles this
second day on account of spending much time in digging out the depot at
Safety Camp. The temperature seemed to fall as we advanced into the
Barrier, and this night the thermometer fell to 62 degrees below zero,
which meant more shivering and even more discomfort, because now the
moisture from our bodies and our breath formed ice in the fur of our
sleeping-bags, especially at the head, hips, and feet. One can never
forget the horrible ice-clammy feeling of one's face against the frozen
fur. How I yearned for a whiff of mild New Zealand air and an hour of its
glorious sunshine to thaw my frozen form.
In spite of the low temperature we did sleep this second night, for we
were tired men, and Nature nursed us somehow into a sort of mild
On the third day of our march a considerable effort was necessary to
bring the sledge out of its settled position in the hard snow, but we
soon got going, like willing horses swaying at our load. The day was very
cold and our breath came out grayly steaming in the clear, crisp air.
At first our faces, feet, and fingers were quite painful from the cold,
which bit right through, but as the march progressed the temperature rose
kindly, until towards noon it was only about 30 degrees below zero, warm
enough after what we had experienced earlier.
As we trudged along we watched the mist which clothed the distant hills
uncurl from their summits and roll back into rising sheets of vapour
which finally dispersed and left a cloudless sky. The awful absence of
life struck strong notes within us. Even our feet made no noise at all,
clad in their soft fur boots, for we could no longer pull on ski owing to
the increasing weight of ice collecting in our sleeping-bags and on the
We were disappointed as the day progressed, for the sky became overcast
and the wind blew stronger and stronger from the W.S.W: with low drifts,
and at 8.30 p.m., it being too dark to see properly, we camped. By the
time our tent was pitched a fair blizzard was upon us, and by 10 o'clock
the camp was well snowed up. In spite of the howling wind we made all
snug inside, and the temperature rose to such an extent that we got quite
a good night's rest.
The blizzard continued throughout the night, but on the following day the
wind took off somewhat, and by the afternoon it was fine enough for us to
make a start again, which we did in a biting cold wind. We marched on
until nightfall, covering about seven and a half miles.
On the 13th September, having shivered in my bag all night, at five
o'clock I told my companions to get up, both of them being awake. The
cold had been so dreadful that none of us had slept a wink, and we were
not at all surprised on looking at the thermometer when we found the
temperature was 73.3 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit.
We cooked a meal and then prepared to scout for Corner Camp. I got a
glimpse of Observation Hill, a well-known landmark, and took a bearing of
that and another hill.
This gave me our whereabouts, and then we struck southward for a short
distance until we saw just the top of the flagstaff of Corner Camp, which
had been entirely buried up by the winter's snow-drifts. When we reached
the Camp we pitched our tent and dug out all the forenoon, until
eventually we had got all the stores repacked in an accessible fashion at
the top of a great snow cairn constructed by the three of us. It was
about the coldest day's work I ever remember doing.
The job finished, we made ourselves some tea and then started to march
back to Hut Point, nearly thirty-five miles away. We proposed to do this
distance without camping, except for a little food, for we had no wish to
remain another minute at Corner Camp, where it was blowing a strong
breeze with a temperature of 32 degrees below zero all the time we were
digging, in fact about as much as we could stick. When four miles on our
homeward journey the wind dropped to a calm, and at 10.30 we had some
pemmican and tea, having covered nine and a half miles according to our
sledge meter. We started again at midnight, and, steering by stars, kept
our course correct. The hot tea seemed to run through my veins; its
effect was magical, and the ice-bitten feeling of tired men gave way once
more to vigour and alertness.
As we started out again we witnessed a magnificent Auroral display, and
as we dragged the now light sledge onward we watched the gold white
streamers waving and playing in the heavens. The atmosphere, was
extraordinarily clear, and we seemed to be marching in fairyland, but for
the cold which made our breath come in gasps. We were cased lightly in
ice about the shoulders, loins, and feet, and we were also covered with
the unpleasant rime which our backs had brushed off the tent walls when
we had camped. On we went, however, confident but silent. No other sound
now but the swish, swish of our ski as we sped through the soft new snow.
In the light of the Aurora objects stood out with the razor-edge
sharpness of an after-blizzard atmosphere, and the temperature seemed to
fall even lower than at midnight. Our fingers seemed to be cut with the
frost burn, and frost bites played all round our faces, making us wince
We were marching, as, it were, under the shadow of Erebus, the great
Antarctic volcano, and on this never-to-be-forgotten night the Southern
Lights played for hours. If for nothing else, it was worth making such a
sledge journey to witness the display. First, vertical shafts ascended in
a fan of electric flame, and then the shafts all merged into a filmy,
pale chrome sheet. This faded and intensified alternately, and then in an
instant disappeared, but more flaming lights burst into view in other
parts of the heavens, and a phantom curtain of glittering electric violet
trembled between the lights and the stars.
No wonder Wilson and Bowers stated that the Aurora effects were much
better and more variegated in colour this southern side of Mount Erebus.
The awful splendour of this majestic vision gave us all a most eerie
feeling, and we forgot our fatigue and the cold whilst we watched.
The Southern Lights continued for some hours, only vanishing with the
faint appearance of dawn. With daylight the well-known hills which
surrounded our winter quarters thrust themselves into view, and gladdened
by this sight we redoubled our efforts.
At 5 a.m. we had alight breakfast of tea and biscuits. We were off again
before six, and we continued marching until we came to the edge of the
Great Ice Barrier shortly before 1 p.m. We did not stop for lunch, but
marched straight to Hut Point, arriving at three o'clock at the Hut.
We cooked ourselves a tremendous meal, which we ate steadily from 4 to
5.30, and then we discussed marching on to our winter quarters at Cape
Evans, fifteen miles farther.
Had we started we might have got in by 3 a.m., but not before. We had
marched all through one night, and besides digging out Corner Camp, we
had covered nearly thirty-five miles, which on top of a day's work we
considered good enough. We therefore prepared the hut for the night; two
of us turned in about seven and soon fell asleep. Gran remained sitting
at the stove, as his bag was in such a shockingly iced-up condition that
he could not yet get into it. He awoke us about 10 p.m. with more food,
cocoa and porridge, both of which were excellent. I full well remember
that he put about four ounces of butter into each bowl of porridge, which
we mightily enjoyed. We then slept again till morning--a long, warm,
We had an easy march back to Cape Evans on the sea ice, and arrived in
the evening at the Main Hut, which appeared to us like a palace after our
cold spring journey.
PREPARATIONS AND PLANS FOR THE SUMMER SEASON
Whilst the spring depot-laying party was absent, Scott, on September 15,
took a small sledge party counting Bowers, Seaman Evans, and Simpson away
westward. They covered over 150 geographical miles, and commenced by
taking over to Butter Point a quantity of stores for Griffith Taylor's
forthcoming western summer journey.
The provisions deposited, Scott marched up the Ferrar Glacier to
Cathedral Rocks and did some scientific work and surveying. He found that
the Ferrar Glacier moved 32 feet in seven months. He then came back down
the Glacier and continued his march on sea ice, following the coast into
the five mile deep bay known as New Harbour, thence outward and North
Eastward to Cape Bernacchi and on past Marble Point, where the broken-off
portion of Glacier Tongue was found aground as stated already.
After an examination of this ice mass the party pressed on past Spike
Point to Dunlop Island, sledging coastwise parallel to the Piedmont
Glacier, named by Griffith Taylor after Dr. Wilson. A thorough
examination was made of Dunlop Island, revealing many facts of
extraordinary scientific interest.
On 24th September the sledge team retraced their steps from Dunlop Island
to a camp near Marble Point, and, after spending a night close to the
remnant of Glacier Tongue, they shaped course direct for Cape Evans,
which was reached about 1 a.m. on 29th September.
Travelling mostly on sea ice, and well away from the frigidity of the Ice
Barrier, Scott was not troubled with any particularly low temperatures,
but he experienced a nasty blizzard on the two days preceding his return
Apart from the value of this journey in observations of a technical
nature, Scott gleaned much information, which he was able to impart to
Griffith Taylor concerning the very important journey to be undertaken by
Once back in the Hut, Scott set to work to put the final touches to his
elaborate plans, drew up instructions, got his correspondence in order
lest he should miss the "Terra Nova" through a late return from the Pole,
and even wrote a special letter urging that special promotion to
Commander's rank should be given to Pennell and myself.
About this time he called on us severally to relieve him if we could of
the responsibility of paying us for the second season. Most of us signed
the document, but not all could afford to do so.
The general outline plan for the Polar journey was now understood by all
concerned in it to be as follows:
_The Motor Party._--Day, Lashly, Hooper, and myself to leave winter
quarters about October 22, the two motors dragging fuel and forage.
_The Pony Party,_ consisting of Scott, Wilson, Oates, Bowers,
Cherry-Garrard, Atkinson, Wright, Petty Officer Evans, Crean, and
Keohane, to be independent of the success of the motors, to work light
loads and easy distances out to Corner Camp, full loads and easy
distances to One Ton Camp, and full distances beyond this point.
_The Dog Teams,_ starting later, to rejoin Scott at One Ton Camp.
The first object was to get twelve men with 43 weekly food units
provision (four men per weekly unit) to the foot of Beardmore Glacier.
Thence, with 3 units of four men and 21 units of provision, it was hoped
to extend the advance unit (Polar party of four men) the required
distance. The route intended was the actual one taken, as shown on the
All our instructions were clear, and we knew what was expected of us long
before the start for the Southern journey was made.
The plans and instructions complete, we had a full month for our own
I had plenty to do in conjunction largely with Debenham, and accordingly
he, I, and Gran set out on September 23 with sledge, tent, and a week's
food supply to complete and extend our surveys, and in Debenham's case to
We had an interesting but somewhat chilly time. Theodolite and plane
table work are not suited to very cold climates. We all three worked long
hours, usually turning out between 5 and 6 a.m. and not wasting time over
Whilst away surveying we mostly worked on the sea ice, and pitched our
tent there. On October 2 at, midnight a terrific squall struck our tent.
We knew what Wilson's experience had been and consequently we were out of
our bags in a moment. Being close to land we got Gran to collect rocks on
the valance, while Debenham and I held on for our lives to it, otherwise
the tent would have blown away via McMurdo Sound into the Ross Sea.
Eventually all was serene, the tent securely anchored by rocks piled
close around, and we three were snoring in our bags.
We lay still until the following afternoon, by which time the blizzard
had abated, and one could see a mile or two; accordingly we were up and
about, so that when the visibility suited, Debenham and I were once more
at work and Gran was away to Cape Evans for the purpose of replenishing
our food bag.
It is worthy of mention that Gran could easily carry sixty pounds weight
in a "rygsaek," (Norwegian knapsack for ski running and towing) and hung
about him whilst keeping up a speed on ski that made the best of us
Debenham whilst in the neighbourhood of the Turk's Head found much of
interest to geologists, and was pleased at what we collected in the way
of information. "Deb" was one of the best cooks in the expedition, so we
fared well whilst he was with Gran and myself.
Gran kept us alive with his reminiscences, which were always amusing, and
he certainly possessed the liveliest imagination in the Expedition. He
ought to have been a brigand chief. Sometimes his imaginative foresight
led him to commit slight breaches of discipline, as the following
anecdote will show. On midwinter night when our table was gay and festive
Gran noticed an unopened pint bottle of champagne towards the end of the
feast, when "bubbley" was being superseded by port and liqueurs. Cleverly
he coaxed the champagne bottle on to his lap, under his jersey, and
finally into his bunk, where it remained hidden until such opportunity
should arise for its consumption.
Gran was too generous to finish it himself, and too wise to divide it
with many--a pint was for two and no more.
It so happened that whilst we two were working around Glacier Tongue this
spring doing survey work we had to come in to Cape Evans for some
purpose. We had a hard run out on ski to our camp, and my short legs
found great effort necessary to keep pace with the swarthy ski-runner.
Once arrived at the survey camp I puffed and blew and sank nearly
exhausted on my sleeping-bag in the tent. I told Gran we must have some
tea before re-commencing work, and reached out to get the cooker ready.
Gran asked me what I fancied most in the world, and my reply was--a pint
He laughed and asked me what I would give him for that same, to which I
articulated, "FIVE POUNDS," and sank my tired head between my knees.
Noiselessly the Norwegian glided from the tent to reappear with the
stolen champagne bottle. I smiled delightedly, and soon we were hard at
work cooking the champagne into its liquid state once more, for it was of
course hard frozen in the low temperature.
When we got the stuff melted it had lost its "fizz," but it tasted
nectar-like even from our aluminium sledge mugs, and such was the
stimulus from it that we worked until darkness had set in. I have never
paid the five pounds, for the reason that Gran chose a dinner party at
the Grand Hotel, Christiania instead: from a financial point of view I
should have gained by paying--but that is another story and has no
connection with the Frozen South.
On October 13 we finished the coast survey in McMurdo Sound: generally
the weather was wretched, but this notwithstanding we got along fairly
well with our work. Once back in the Hut there was plenty to be done
preparing for the Southern Journey.
My particular work consisted of rating chronometers, sewing, packing,
stowing, making sundials, calibrating instruments, and preparing little
charts which could be rolled up on a bamboo stick and carried in the
instrument boxes of the sledges.
Poor Clissold, our cook, fell off an iceberg while posing for Ponting,
and was on account of his severe shaking unable to accompany the Motor
party for which Scott had detailed him.
After dinner on October 17 Day started his motors, and amidst a perfect
furore of excitement he got one motor sledge down on to the sea ice. At
the ice foot, alas, one of the rear axle cases fractured badly and the
car was out of action 30 yards from the garage. The other car wouldn't
From the 18th until the 24th October, Day and Lashly were at work
repairing the disabled car, and they made an excellent job of it, so that
there was no delay in the starting date for the pioneer party with the
We got all news by telephone from Hut Point with reference to the state
of the surface on the Great Ice Barrier, as Meares and Dimitri returned
on October 15 from a flying journey to Corner Camp and back with depot
stores. Meares's dogs on this trip covered the seventy statute miles, out
and home, in thirty-six hours, including their resting time.
Scott handed me my instructions on October 20, which read as follows:
_Instructions for Motor Party._
Proceed at convenient speed to Corner Camp, thence to One Ton Camp,
and thence due South to Latitude 80 1/2 degrees South. If motors
(i) Carry forward from Corner Camp 9 bags forage, 1 bag of oilcake;
_but_ see that provision for ponies is intact, _viz._: 3 sacks oats,
1 bag oilcake, 4 bags of forage. If motors pulling very well you can
also take 9 cases emergency biscuit.
(ii) In addition carry forward from One Ton Camp all man food and fuel
in depot, _viz._: 7 units bagged provisions, 4 boxes biscuit, 8
gallons paraffin, but see that provision for ponies is intact, _viz._:
5 sacks oats; and deposit second bag of oil-cake brought from Corner
Camp. If motors pulling very well you can also take 2 or 3 bales of
It being important that I should have latest news of your success I am
arranging for dog teams to follow your tracks for some distance.
If motors break down temporarily you will have time for repairs.
If motors break down irretrievably, take 5 weeks' provision and 3
gallons extra summit oil on 10 foot sledge and continue South easy
marches. Arrange as best you can for ponies to overtake you three or
four marches due South One Ton Camp. Advance as much weight (man food)
as you can conveniently carry from One Ton Camp, but I do not wish you
to tire any of party. The object is to relieve the ponies as much as
possible on leaving One Ton Camp, but you must not risk chance of your
tracks being obliterated and pony party missing you.
(Signed) R. F. SCOTT.
On October 23 I wrote my final letters to my wife and friends lest I
should get back to Cape Evans after the departure of the "Terra Nova": we
had by now decided that another winter was imperious, and as far as
possible those who were likely to remain a second winter wrote to this
effect, and left their letters in Simpson's charge. Before my departure
with the motors I also spent some time with my leader, and he gave me all
his instructions to the various parties to read.
They are so explicit and comprehensive that I may well append certain of
them here, for they clearly show how Scott's organisation covered the
work of the ship, the base, the western party, the dog teams, and
even the arrangements for Campbell's party.
I.--INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMMANDING OFFICER, "Terra Nova."
The expedition suffered a considerable loss of ponies in March, but
enough remain to carry out the Southern Plan, under favourable
This loss and experience with the remaining animals have decided me to
start the Southern journey at a later date than originally intended.
As at present arranged the Southern Party leaves at the end of this month
(October), and it is estimated that if all goes well the earliest date at
which the most advanced party can return to McMurdo Sound is March 15.
As it is probable the ship will be obliged to leave the Sound before this
party has returned, arrangements have been made to pass a second winter
at Cape Evans, and as is clearly desirable, the Scientific Staff will
remain to continue their work.
If fresh transport is brought by the ship, other members of the
Expedition will remain to work it, and it is probable that an attempt
will be made to cross the Barrier in a S.S.E.ly direction in 1912-13.
The ship must be prepared to return to the Sound in 1912-13 to relieve
those that remain for the second winter.
Details concerning past events can be learned from the bearers of these
In all that follows I want you to understand clearly that you should
proceed in accordance with your judgment rather than the letter of these
instructions, where the further information you possess may cause it to
appear more expedient.
Subject to this condition I wish you to carry out the following
I assume that you arrive at the rendezvous, Granite Harbour, on or about
January 15, and pick up the Western Geological Party as arranged.
The party will consist of Griffith-Taylor, Debenham, Gran, and Forde.
The first copy of this document may be found by you at the depot made by
this party on the Bluff at the entrance of the Harbour, but I hope that
Taylor himself will hand it to you.
In case the party should be absent it is well to quote Taylor's plan in
To November 10--Exploring along coast North of Granite Harbour.
November 14 to 28--Exploring coast and inland South of Granite Harbour.
December 8 to January 8-Exploring inland of Granite Harbour region.
Taylor will make every effort to return to Granite Harbour in time to
meet you, and should the party be absent you may assume that it has
probably been delayed inland. On the chance that it may have been cut off
you may proceed to search the coast in a Southerly direction if ice
The time occupied in the search must be left to your judgment, observing
that the party will reach Granite Harbour with sufficient provision to
last till April, 1912, and should be able to work its way back to this
All things considered, I do not think you need be anxious about the
party, even if you find a search impracticable, having regard to your
future movements, and you will remember that the search will be more
easily prosecuted as the season advances.
Should the party be recovered at once, as is most probable, I wish you to
take it to Evans Coves, and land it without delay. The provisions carried
by the party should be sufficient to support it for about two months, to
provide for the possibility of the failure of the ship to return.
I imagine this landing will be effected about January 18 or 19, and the
party should be instructed to be prepared to be re-embarked on February
15. It will, of course, be under your orders, and you should be careful
that the place for relief is thoroughly understood by all concerned.
After landing this party you will proceed to Cape Evans, and should you
reach it on or about January 23 you will have three weeks in McMurdo
Sound before proceeding to finally relieve the Geological Party.
There will be a great deal of work to be done and very little assistance:
the order in which it is performed must depend on the state of the ice,
etc., but of course the practical work of relieving the station must take
precedence in point of importance.
Simpson will remain in charge of the station, and is provided with
complete lists of the stores remaining, together with the requirements
for the future. Bowers will have left a letter for you concerning these
matters. It is probable that a good many of the stores you bring will not
be required on shore, and in any case you will easily determine what is
wanted. If 10 tons of patent fuel remain, we shall not require more than
15 tons of additional fuel.
In addition to stores I hope you will be landing some fresh transport
animals. Oates has drawn a plan for extending the stable accommodation,
which will be left with Simpson. The carpenter should be landed for this
work and for the few small alterations in the hut accommodation which may
The Discovery Hut at Cape Armitage has now been put into fairly good
order, and anticipating that returning parties may have to remain there
for some time, as we did last year, I am arranging to transport a
quantity of stores to Hut Point. In case the ponies are unable to finish
this work, I should like you to complete it at some convenient season.
According to circumstances you will probably wait till the ice has broken
Mails and letters for members of the Southern Party should be taken to
Hut Point and left in clearly marked boxes.
Simpson will inform you of the plan on which the Southern Journey is
being worked. The first returning parties from the South should reach Hut
Point towards the end of January. At as early a date as convenient I
should like you to proceed to the Western side of the Sound
(i) To find a snug berth in which the ship can take shelter during
(ii) To erect the meteorological hut if you have brought it with you.
From a recent sledge trip to the West I am inclined to think that
excellent shelter could be found for the ship alongside the fast ice in
the Ferrar Glacier Inlet or in New Harbour, and it might be well to make
headquarters in such a place in time of disturbance. But it would be wise
to keep an eye to the possibility of ice pressure across the Sound.
It might be possible to moor the ship under the shelter of Butter Point
by a hawser secured to balks of timber buried deep in the snow; she
should he easy at a long scope. In regards to the hut my idea is to place
it in as sheltered a spot as possible, at or near a spot which commands a
view of the Strait, the main object being to make it a station from which
the phenomena of blizzards, etc., can be observed. Simpson, who was with
me in the West, will give you some idea of our impressions.
You will understand that neither of the above objects are of vital
On the proper date you will return to Evans Coves to pick up the
I must assume that Campbell has been landed in the region of Robertson
Bay in a place that is fairly accessible at this season. If this is so I
think it is desirable that you should visit his station after leaving
Evans Coves to communicate fresh instructions to him.
Campbell was directed to be prepared to embark on February 25, and it is
probable that he will have returned a few days before that date.
In view of the return of the ship in 1912-13 I propose to give Campbell's
Party the choice of remaining another winter in their station under
certain conditions or of returning to New Zealand. Should they decide to
stay, the necessary stores for them can now be landed. Should they decide
to return, inform Priestley that he is at liberty to remain at Cape Evans
for a second winter if he wishes to do so.
Should the party be absent from the station you must leave the
instructions and return to McMurdo Sound. I do not think you should delay
beyond February 24 on this service.
You should be back in McMurdo Sound at the end of February or March, and
after collecting fresh news, I hope you will be able to moor the ship and
await developments for at least ten days.
The term of this stay must be left entirely to your judgment, observing
that whilst it is highly undesirable for you to miss the latest possible
news, it would be more undesirable for you to be caught in the ice and
forced to winter.
Concerning this matter I can only give you information as to what had
happened in previous years:
Last year the Bays froze permanently on March 24.
Last year the Sound froze permanently on May 7 or 8.
By the Bays I mean the water south of Hut Point, inside Turtle Back
Island, south of Glacier Tongue, inside the islands north of Glacier
Tongue, and, I think, the western shores of the Sound.
The following gives the ice movements in the Sound in more detail:
March 24.-25. Ice forming and opening with leads.
" 26. Sea clear.
" 27. Strait apparently freezing.
" 28 (early). Ice over whole Sound.
" 29. All Ice gone.
" 30. Freezing over.
April 1. Ice out, etc.
This sort of thing continued till May, with lengthening intervals, but
never more than three days of frozen sea.
The dates of freezing over in 1902 were approximately the same, except
that the Sound continued to open beyond the Glacier Tongue throughout the
In 1903 the Bays did not break out, but the Sound was freezing and
opening in March and April as in the other years. I think it is certain
that the old ice lately broken as well as all the broken young ice drifts
to the west, and that a ship on the western side of the Sound would be
pretty certainly entangled at this season of the year.
I think it more than probable that you will find all the old ice broken
out when you return from the north, and the Bay south of Cape Armitage
If so, this seems to me to be a good place for you to wait, moored to the
edge of the Barrier, if possible. Young ice will constantly form about
you, but I do not think you need fear its detaining you until after the
third week in March. I am afraid it may be very cold and unpleasant
waiting in such a situation, and possibly better and safer conditions for
the ship can be found farther to the west and nearer to the decayed
Glacier ice south of Black Island.
Moored here the ship would have a clear sea to leeward, whereas in the
Bay beyond Cape Armitage she might have a lee shore. You will know best
how to make a good permanent ice anchor.
There are shoals off Cape Armitage which may extend for one or even two
miles, and careful navigation is needed in this immediate vicinity. The
shoals off Hut Point and the west side of the Peninsula do not extend
more than a ship's length from the shore. Otherwise, except inside the
Islands, I believe the Sound to be free from such dangers.
In case you choose to wait in a spot somewhat remote from Hut Point I am
arranging to attract your attention in the following manner:--Very's
lights will be discharged and as large a flare as possible will be burnt
at Hut Point at midnight or noon (you will remember we are keeping time
for 180th meridian).
As large a flag as possible will be displayed on the skyline of the
heights near by, and attempts to heliograph with a looking-glass will be
With a keen lookout for such signals you need not frequently approach the
In the above I have referred to the young ice in the Sound only; there is
no means of knowing what is happening farther north, but I am of opinion
that as long as the "Terra Nova" is free to move in the Southern Bays,
she will have no great difficulty in leaving the Ross Sea.
You will understand that the foregoing remarks are intended as helpful
suggestions and that I do not wish them to interfere with your judgment
of the situation as it stands; above all, I would not have them to prompt
you to take a risk in detaining the ship beyond the time which you think
proper for her departure. I fully realise that at this critical time,
when gales are very frequent, your position will be beset with
difficulties, and I much regret that it is necessary to ask you to
undertake such an uncomfortable service.
Apart from, but concurrently with, the services which have been
discussed, I know that you will be anxious to help forward the scientific
objects of the Expedition. Having regard to your interests in such
matters, they also are left mainly to your judgment, and I wish only to
specify some lines on which any soundings taken would be especially
These seem to be:
1. In the space occupied by the old Glacier Tongue (some two miles of
the Tongue was broken off last summer).
2. Across the Sound in one or two places to give a section of the
3. Across any fiords on the coast such as the Ferrar Glacier Inlet.
4. Off the end of ice tongues or the edge of ice walls.
5. Off the old pinnacled ice north of Black Island.
6. From a boat near the Barne Glacier.
7. From a boat around grounded bergs.
I have now to mention various matters of lesser importance to which I
should like attention given if time and circumstances permit.
1. The Hut Galley is not in a very satisfactory condition. I should like
Williams to overhaul it and try to make it more serviceable for a second
2. The coast of Victoria Land has been redrawn over the "Discovery"
track. I should be glad to have definite evidence on this point. Any
replotting of coast will of course be valuable.
3. Boot-leather, stout boot-nails, and useful paper are requirements
which I hope you will be able to supply sufficiently for a second season.
4. The only want for the second season which I can foresee is reindeer
pelts for repairing sleeping-bags. I very much fear you will not have
brought any: anything you can provide to make good the want would be
5. If convenient Williams might look at the blubber cooking stove in the
Discovery Hut and provide some sheet metal, etc., to keep it in good
6. One of the old blubber stoves adapted as in stables and some chimney
pipe should be placed in the Meteorological Hut if it is erected to the
7. To provide for possible difficulty in keeping up supply of blubber for
Discovery Hut stove in March and April it might be useful to have a few
bags of coal there, if you can spare them and land them conveniently.
Last year we managed very well without coal.
8. If when erecting the stables, etc., the carpenter has not time to see
to smaller matters, such as the repairing of the porch entrance, etc.,
will you please leave sufficient wood for the purpose. A drift screen
would be an advantage outside door of porch.
9. If you erect the Meteorological Hut, and can conveniently do so, it
would help for you to leave a few cases of provisions in it. Bowers
leaves a note with Simpson on this point.
10. If at any time during the season it is convenient to you without
undue expenditure of coal to land at Cape Crozier, I should like you to
leave a small depot of provisions there. The object of this depot is to
support a sledge party to visit the region early next season. Bowers
leaves a note with Simpson concerning the stores required. They should be
placed near the Discovery record post.
11. To assist the signalling to you from Hut Point you might land rockets
In regard to the constitution of the wintering party for the second
winter, much must remain in doubt. The following members will return in
1. Taylor, whose leave of absence transpires.
2. Ponting, who will have completed his work.
3. Anton, who has had enough of it.
_Anton_ took the dark season very badly; it preyed on his superstitions,
but he has worked like a Trojan and is an excellent little man. Please
recommend him highly if he wants to get work in New Zealand.
_Meares_ may possibly return; it depends on letters from home.
The following are certain to stay: Bowers, Simpson, Debenham, Wright,
Nelson, Atkinson, Clissold, Hooper, Dimitri.
The movements of the following depend (i) on the date of the return from
the South; (ii) on the fresh transport which you have brought: Myself,
Wilson, Evans, Oates, Cherry-Garrard, Gran, Day, and the seamen.
If you have brought fresh transport the probability is that all these
will remain. If you have not brought fresh transport the majority, if not
all, who are able to catch the ship will return. The decision is in every
case voluntary and subject to alteration on receipt of home news or from
It is impossible for me to speak too highly of any member of the
Expedition who has remained in this party, and you must do your best to
see that the reasons of returning members are generally understood.
In regard to my agreement with the Central News I am leaving with Simpson
under separate cover a telegraphic despatch concerning the doings of this
party, containing about 3000 words. I hope you will duly receive letters
from me through returning sections of the Southern Party. I must leave it
to you to complete the despatch with this material, with news from
Campbell, and with an account of your own doings.
You will remember that the agreement is for a minimum of 6000 words, and
we must not fail in the performance of our part, Drake must take special
care to have the "Hereward" message correct.
As a matter of form, it will be well for you to remind every one
returning in the ship of the terms of the ship's articles.
Ponting will be in charge of all the photographic material returning, and
will see to the observance of the various agreements concerning it.
His own work is of the greatest importance, and it is probable that he
will wish to be in the ship during your trip to recover the Geological
Party and communicate with Campbell.
I should like you to give him every facility you can for his work, but of
course you will remember that he is an enthusiast, and in certain
circumstances might undervalue his own safety or that of the ship. I
don't want you to run risks to get pictures.
I have hitherto made no mention of Amundsen, as we have no news of him
beyond that which you brought. The circumstances do not appear to me to
make it incumbent on you to attempt to visit his station. But should the
"Fram" not have been heard of, or public opinion seem to point to the
advisability, you are of course at liberty to go along the Barrier and to
rearrange this programme as necessary for the purpose.
Finally, I wish you every sort of good fortune in the work that is to do,
and better weather than you encountered last year. I am sure that you
will do all that is possible under the circumstances.
(Signed) R.F. SCOTT.
II.--INSTRUCTIONS TO DR. G. C. SIMPSON.
MY DEAR SIMPSON,--In leaving you in charge of the Cape Evans Station I
have little to do beyond expressing the hearty wish that all may be well
with yourself and the other members of the Expedition remaining with you.
I leave in your charge a box containing instructions for the Commanding
Officer of the "Terra Nova" and other documents which I wish you to
deliver to the proper persons.
I think you are fully aware of my plans and wishes, beyond their
expression in the various statements you have seen, and that it is
needless to go further with written explanations.
As you know, it is arranged for Ponting, Hooper, and Anton to make a
journey to the S.W. in December. Ponting will leave with you a written
statement giving an outline of his intended movements. Later in the
season he will probably visit Cape Royds and other interesting
localities: please give him what assistance you can in his important
From time to time Meares may be visiting the station, and I hope that by
this means, or through the telephone, you may receive information as to
the progress of the Southern Party.
The thawing of the drifts in summer will have to be carefully watched and
such measures as are necessary taken to avoid injury to the Hut and the
stores. Cases should not be exposed to wet or tins to rust.
The breaking of the sea ice should be carefully watched, noted, and
reported to Hut Point when possible.
Bowers will leave notes with you concerning store requirements and
desirable expenditure. I anticipate the ship may have some difficulty in
reprovisioning the station. You will of course render all the assistance
Details as to the improvement of the Hut for a second winter will become
more evident as the season advances. In addition to the probable
renovation of the stables I can only suggest the following points at
1. An extension or rebuilding of the entrance porch so that the outer
door faces north. Regard must be had to the possibility of bringing
sledges into hut.
2. A shelter extension to latrine.
3. The construction of an air-tight embankment or other device at the
base of the hut walls to keep the floor warmer.
4. The betterment of insulation in your corner, and the provision of a
definite air inlet there.
5. The caulking of small holes and slits in the inner roof.
6. The whale boat should be looked to and probably filled with water
under advice from ship.
After departure of Southern Party all mattresses and bedding should be
rolled up, and as opportunity occurs they should be thoroughly dried in
You will remember that as the summer advances certain places in the solid
floe become dangerously weak. It should be well to keep watch on such
places, especially should they occur on the road to Hut Point, over which
parties may be travelling at any time. It is probable there will be a
rearrangement of the currents in the region of Tent Island since the
breaking of the Glacier Tongue.
(Signed) R.F. Scott.
III.--INSTRUCTIONS LEADER OF WESTERN PARTY.
The objects of your journey have been discussed, and need not here be
particularised. In general they comprise the Geological exploration of
the coast of Victoria Land.
Your party will consist of Debenham, Gran, and Forde, and you will cross
the Sound to Butter Point on or about October.
You will depart from Butter Point with provision as under:
11 weeks' pemmican.
10 gallons oil.
18 weeks' remainder.
25 lb. cooking fat.
and make along the coast to Granite Harbour. You will leave at Butter
Point two weeks' provision for your party, for use in case you are forced
to retreat along the coast late in the season, and for the same
eventuality you will depot a week's provision at Cape Bernacchi.
On arrival in Granite Harbour you will choose a suitable place to depot
the main bulk of your provision.
As the Commanding Officer of the "Terra Nova" has been referred to the
bluff Headland, shown in the photograph on page 154 "Voyage of the
'Discovery'," as the place near which you are likely to be found, it is
obviously desirable that your depot should be in this vicinity.
I approve your plan to employ your time thereafter approximately as
During what remains of the first fortnight of November in exploring north
of Granite Harbour.
During the last fortnight in November in exploring south of Granite
The only importance attached to the observance of this programme, apart
from a consideration of the work to be done, lies in the fact that in
case of an early break up of the sea ice and your inability to reach the
rendezvous, the ship is directed to search the coast south of Granite
You should act accordingly in modifying your plans.
It will certainly be wise for you to confine your movements to the
regions of Granite Harbour during the second week in January.
You will carry a copy of my instructions to the Commanding Officer of the
"Terra Nova," which you are at liberty to peruse.
This should be left at your depot and the depot marked, so that the ship
has a good chance of finding it in case of your absence.
You will, of course, make every effort to be at the rendezvous at the
proper time, January 15, and you need not be surprised if the ship does
not appear on the exact date. The Commanding Officer has been instructed
in the following words:
"I wish the ship to be at Granite Harbour on or about January 15....
No anxiety need be felt if she is unable to reach this point within a
week or so of the date named."
You are now in possession of all the information I can give you on this
point, and it must be left to your discretion to act in accordance with
Should the ship fail to find you it is probable she will not make a
protracted search before going to Cape Evans to gather further
particulars and land stores; it is to be remembered also that an extent
of fast ice or pack may prevent a search of the coast at this early
Should the ship fail to appear within a fortnight of the date named you
should prepare to retreat on Hut Point, but I am of opinion that the
retreat should not be commenced until the Bays have refrozen, probably
towards the end of March. An attempt to retreat over land might involve
you in difficulties, whereas you could build a stone hut, provision it
with seal meat, and remain in safety in any convenient station on the
coast. In no case is an early retreat along the coast to be attempted
without the full concurrence of the members of your party.
Should the ship embark you on or about the proper date, you will take on
board your depot stores, except one week's provision. These stores should
serve your travelling needs for the remainder of the season.
Whilst expressing my wishes to the Commanding Officer of the "Terra
Nova," I have given him full discretion to act according to
circumstances, in carrying out the further programme of the season.
You will, of course, be under his orders and receive his instructions
concerning your further movements.
In your capacity as leader of a party I cannot too strongly impress on
you the necessity for caution in your movements. Although you will
probably travel under good weather conditions, you must remember that
violent storms occasionally sweep up the coast and that the changes of
weather are quite sudden, even in summer. I urge this the more especially
because I think your experiences of last year are likely to be
I am confident that it is not safe for a party in these regions to be at
a great distance from its camp, and that, for instance, it would be
dangerous to be without shelter in such storms as that encountered by the
"Discovery" off Coulman Island early in January, 1902.
With camp equipment a party is always safe, though it is not easy to
pitch tent in a high wind.
I can forsee no object before you which can justify the risk of accident
to yourself or to the other members of your party.
I wish you to show these instructions to Debenham, who will take charge
of the party in case you should be incapacitated.
I sincerely hope you will be able to accomplish your work without
difficulty, and I am sure that Pennell will do his best to help you.
(Signed) R.F. SCOTT.
IV.--INSTRUCTIONS FOR DOG TEAMS.
DEAR MEARES,--In order that there may be no mistake concerning the
important help which it is hoped the dog teams will give to the Southern
Party, I have thought it best to set down my wishes as under:
Assuming that you carry two bags of oilcake to Hut Point, I want you to
take these with five bags of forage to Corner Camp before the end of the
month. This will leave two bags of forage at Hut Point.
If the motors pass Hut Point en route for the Barrier, I should be glad
to get all possible information of their progress. About a day after they
have passed if you are at Hut Point I should like you to run along their
tracks for half a day with this object. The motors will pick up the two
bags of forage at Hut Point--they should be placed in a convenient
position for this purpose.
The general scheme of your work in your first journey over the
Barrier has been thoroughly discussed, and the details are
contained in Table VIII of my plan of which you should have a
copy. I leave you to fix the date of your departure from Hut Point,
observing that I should like you to join me at One Ton Camp, or very
We cannot afford to wait. Look for a note from me at Corner Camp. The
date of your return must be arranged according to circumstances. Under
favourable conditions you should be back at Hut Point by December 19 at
After sufficient rest I should like you to transport to Hut Point such
emergency stores as have not yet been sent from Cape Evans. At this time
you should see that the Discovery Hut is provisioned to support the
Southern Party and yourself in the autumn in case the ship does not
At some time during this month or early in January you should make your
second journey to One Ton Camp and leave there:
5 units X.S. ration.
3 cases of biscuit.
5 gallons of oil.
As much dog food as you can conveniently carry (for third journey).
This depot should be laid not later than January 19, in case of rapid
return of first unit of Southern Party.
Supposing that you have returned to Hut Point by January 13, there will
be nothing for you to do on the Southern road for at least three weeks.
In this case, and supposing the ice conditions to be favourable, I should
like you to go to Cape Evans and await the arrival of the ship.
The ship will be short-handed and may have difficulty in landing stores.
I should like you to give such assistance as you can without tiring the
About the first week of February I should like you to start your third
journey to the South, the object being to hasten the return of the third
Southern unit and give it a chance to catch the ship. The date of your
departure must depend on news received from returning units, the extent
of the depot of dog food you have been able to leave at One Ton Camp, the
state of the dogs, etc.
Assuming that the ship will have to leave the Sound soon after the middle
of March, it looks at present as though you should aim at meeting the
returning party about March 1 in Latitude 82 or 82.30. If you are then in
a position to advance a few short marches or "mark time" for five or six
days on food brought, or ponies killed, you should have a good chance of
affecting your object.
You will carry with you beyond One Ton Camp one X.S. ration, including
biscuit and one gallon of paraffin, and of course you will not wait
beyond the time when you can safely return on back depots.
You will of course understand that whilst the object of your third
journey is important, that of the second is vital. At all hazards three
X.S. units of provision must be got to One Ton Camp by the date named,
and if the dogs are unable to perform this service, a man party must be
(Signed) R.F. SCOTT.
V.--INSTRUCTIONS TO LIEUT. VICTOR CAMPBELL.
Cape Evans, _October_, 1911.
MY DEAR CAMPBELL,--This letter assumes that you are landed somewhere to
the north of this station and that Pennell is able to place it in your
hands in the third week of February before he returns to McMurdo Sound.
From Pennell's instructions, which I have asked him to show you, you will
see that there is a probability of some change in the future plans
whereby some members of the Expedition remain for a second winter at Cape
You will learn the details of the situation and the history of this
station from Pennell and others, and I need not go into these matters.
If things should turn out as expected, arrangements will have to be made
for the "Terra Nova" to return to the Ross Sea in the open season
1912-13. Under these circumstances an opportunity offers for the
continuance of useful work in all directions. I have therefore to offer
you the choice of remaining in your present station for a second year or
of returning in the "Terra Nova."
I shall not expect you to stay unless:
(1) All your party are willing or can be replaced by volunteers.
(2) The work in view justifies the step.
(3) Your food supplies are adequate.
(4) Your party is in a position to be relieved with certainty on and
after February 25, 1913.
(5) Levick and Priestley are willing to forgo all legal title to
expeditionary salary for the second year.
I should explain that this last condition is made only because I am in
ignorance of the state of the expeditionary finances.
Should you decide to stay I hope that Pennell may be able to supply all
your requirements. Should you decide to return please inform Priestley
that he is at liberty to stay at Cape Evans for the second winter.
The same invitation is extended to yourself should you wish to see more
of this part of the continent.
We could not afford to receive more of your party.
Should you not have returned from your sledge trip in time to meet the
"Terra Nova" when she bears this letter, you will understand that the
choice of staying or returning is equally open to you when she returns in
In this case it would of course be impossible for any of your party to
stay at Cape Evans.
Should you see Pennell in February and decide to return, you could remain
at your station till the ship sails north in March if you think it
Being so much in the dark concerning all your movements and so doubtful
as to my ability to catch the ship, I am unable to give more definite
instructions, but I know that both you and Pennell will make the best of
the circumstances, and always deserve my approval of your actions.
In this connection I conclude by thanking you for the work described in
your report of February last. I heartily approve your decision not to
winter in King Edward's Land, your courteous conduct towards Amundsen,
and your forethought in returning the two ponies to this station.
I hope that all has been well with you and that you have been able to do
good work. I am sure that you have done everything that circumstances
permitted and shall be very eager to see your report.
With best wishes, etc.,
(Signed) R.F. SCOTT.
SOUTHERN JOURNEY--MOTOR SLEDGES ADVANCE
On October 24, 1911, the advance guard of the Southern Party, consisting
of Day, Lashly, Hooper, and myself, left Cape Evans with two motor
sledges as planned. We had with us three tons of stores, pony food, and
petrol, carried on five 12 ft. sledges, and our own tent, etc., on a
smaller sledge. The object of sending forward such a weight of stores was
to save the ponies' legs over the variable sea ice, which was in some
places hummocky and in others too slippery to stand on. Also the first
thirty miles of Barrier was known to be bad travelling and likely to tire
the ponies unnecessarily unless they marched light, so here again it was
desirable to employ the motors for a heavy drag.
We had fine weather when at 10.30 a.m. we started off, with the usual
concourse of well-wishers, and after one or two stops and sniffs we
really got under way, and worked our loads clear of the Cape on to the
smoother stretch of sea ice, which improved steadily as we proceeded.
Hooper accompanied Lashly's car and I worked with Day.
A long shaft protruded 3 ft. clear each end of the motors. To the
foremost end we attached the steering rope, just a set of man-harness
with a long trace, and to the after end of the shaft we made fast the
towing lanyard or span according to whether we hauled sledges abreast or
in single line. Many doubts were expressed as to the use of the despised
motors--but we heeded not the gibes of our friends who came out to speed
us on our way. They knew we were doing our best to make the motors
successful, and their expressed sneers covered their sincere wishes that
we should manage to get our loads well on to the Barrier.
We made a mile an hour speed to begin with and stopped at Razorback
Island after 3 1/2 miles.
We had lunch at Razorback, and after that we "lumped," man-hauled, and
persuaded the two motors and three tons of food and stores another mile
onward. The trouble was not on account of the motors failing, but because
of a smooth, blue ice surface. We camped at 10 p.m. and all slept the
sleep of tired men. October 25 was ushered in with a hard wind, and it
appeared in the morning as if our cars were not going to start. We had
breakfast at 8 a.m. and got started on both motors at 10.45, but soon
found that we were unable to move the full loads owing to the blue ice
surface, so took to relaying. We advanced under three miles after ten
hours' distracting work--mostly pulling the sledges ourselves, jerking,
heaving, straining, and cursing--it was tug-of-war work and should have
broken our hearts, but in spite of our adversity we all ended up smiling
and camped close on 9 p.m.
The day turned out beautifully fine and calm, but the hard ice was
absolutely spoiling the rollers of both cars.
Whilst we were preparing for bed, Simpson and Gran passed our tent and
called on us. They were bound for Hut Point. I told Simpson our troubles
about the surface, and he promised to telephone from Hut Point to Captain
Next day we got going with certain difficulties, and met Gran and Simpson
four miles from Hut Point. They told us that a large man-hauling party
was on its way out from Cape Evans to assist us. The weather was superb
and we all got very sunburnt. Captain Scott and seven others came up with
us at 2 p.m., but both motors were then forging ahead, so they went on to
Hut Point without waiting.
Meantime we lunched, and afterwards struck a bad patch of surface which
caused us frequent stops. We reached Hut Point at 8 p.m. after stopping
the motors near Cape Armitage, and spent the night in the Hut there,
camping with Scott's party, Meares and Dimitri.
The motor engines were certainly good in moderate temperatures, but our
slow advance was due to the chains slipping on hard ice. Scott was
concerned, but he made it quite clear that if we got our loads clear of
the Strait between White Island and Ross Isle, he would be more than
Meares and Bowers cooked a fine seal fry for us all, and we spent a happy
evening at Hut Point. The Hut, thanks to Meares and Dimitri, was now, for
these latitudes, a regular Mayfair dwelling. The blubber stove was now a
bricked-in furnace, with substantial chimney, and hot plates, with
cooking space sufficient for our needs, however many, were being
On October 27 I woke the cooks at 6.30 a.m., and we breakfasted about 8
o'clock, then went up to the motors off Cape Armitage. Lashly's car got
away and did about three miles with practically no stop. Our carburettor
continually got cold, and we stopped a good deal. Eventually about 1 p.m.
we passed Lashly's car and made our way up a gentle slope on to the
Barrier, waved to the party, and went on about three-quarters of a mile.
Here we waited for Lashly and Hooper, who came up at 2.30, having had
much trouble with their engine, due to overheating, we thought. When
Day's car glided from the sea ice, over the tide crack and on to the
Great Ice Barrier itself, Scott and his party cheered wildly, and Day
acknowledged their applause with a boyish smile of triumph. As soon as
Lashly got on to the Barrier, Scott took his party away and they returned
to Cape Evans. It would have been a disappointment to them if they had
known that we shortly afterwards heard an ominous rattle, which turned
out to be the big end brass of one of the connecting rods churning
up--due to a bad casting.
Luckily we had a spare, which Day and Lashly fitted, while Hooper and I
went on with the 10 ft. sledge to Safety Camp.
Here we dug out our provisions according to instructions and brought them
back to our camp to avoid further delay in repacking sledges. We then
made Day and Lashly some tea to warm them up. They worked nobly and had
the car ready by 11 p.m. We pushed on till midnight in our anxiety to
acquit ourselves and our motors creditably. The thermometer showed -19.8
degrees on camping, and temperature fell to -25 degrees during the night.
October 28 was my birthday; all hands wished me many happy returns of the
day, and I was given letters from my wife and from Forde and Keohane, who
somehow remembered the date from last year--these two, with Browning and
Dickason, I had brought into the Expedition from H.M.S. "Talbot," one of
my old ships. But to continue: we were all ready to start at 11 a.m. in a
stiff, cold breeze, when I discovered that my personal bag had been taken
off by the man-hauling party that came to assist us, so I put on ski and
went to Hut Point, six miles back. I found Meares there, and he gave me a
surprised but hearty welcome and wished me "Happy returns, Teddy." I
explained what had happened; it had been done of course the night before
when my namesake had taken my personal bag in to Hut Point from Cape
Armitage to save me the trouble of carrying it after a hard day's work
with the motors. As I had had no need of it, I never noticed its presence
at Hut Point, so there it was. Meares made me laugh by an in the most
friendly way, as if I was calling on him in his English home, "Stay and
have lunch, won't you, Teddy?" Of course I did, but as I was wanted by
the Motor Party it was a somewhat hurried meal, fried seal liver and
bacon. We were not allowed to eat bacon on account of scurvy precaution,
but still, it was my birthday, and nobody let me forget it. Feeling much
better and less angry after this unlooked for ski-run, I swung out to the
Barrier edge, over the sea ice, up the Barrier slope, and on to the
Barrier itself, where I picked up the tracks of the motors and followed
them for seven miles. I remember that ski run well: I felt so very lonely
all by myself on the silent Barrier, surrounded as I was by lofty white
mountains, which lifted their summits to the blue peaceful heavens. I
thought over the future of the Southern Party and wondered how things
would be one year hence; this was indeed facing the unknown. I enjoyed
the keen air, and the crisp surface was so easy to negotiate after my
former Barrier visits with a heavy sledge dragging one back, but the very
easiness I was enjoying made me think of Amundsen and his dogs.
If the Norwegians could glide along like this, it would be "good-bye" to
our hopes of planting Queen Alexandra's flag first at the South Pole. As
a matter of fact, while I was then making my way along to overtake the
motors, Amundsen and his Polar party were beyond the 80th parallel,
forcing their way Southward and hourly increasing their distance from us
and from Captain Scott, who had not even started. Yes, Amundsen was over
150 miles farther South, and his sledge runners were slithering over the
snow, casting its powdered particles aside in beautiful little clouds
while I was rapidly overhauling the motors with their labouring, sorely
taxed custodians, Day, Lashly, and Hooper. It seems very cruel to say
this, but there's no good in shutting one's eyes to Truth, however
unpleasantly clad she may be. I caught the motors late in the afternoon
after running nine miles; they had only done three miles whilst I had
been doing fifteen. We continued crawling along with our loads, stopping
to cool the engines every few minutes, it seemed, but at 11 p.m. they
overheated to such an extent that we stopped for the night. I was fairly
done, but not too tired to enjoy the supper which Hooper cooked, with its
many luxuries produced by him. Hooper had informed Bowers of my birthday,
and obtained all kinds of good things, which we despatched huddled
together in our tents; for it was about 20 degrees below zero when we
turned in well after midnight.
We intentionally lay in our bags until 8.30 next morning, but didn't get
those dreadful motors to start until 10.45 a.m. Even then they only gave
a few sniffs before breaking down and stopping, so that we could not
advance perceptibly until 11.30. We had troubles all day, and were forced
to camp on account of Day's sledge giving out at 5 p.m.--we daren't stop
for lunch earlier, for once stopped one never could say when a re-start
could be made.
We depoted here four big tins of petrol and two drums of filtrate to
lighten load of Day's sledge. Started off at six and soon found that the
big end brass on No. 2 cylinder of this sledge had given out, so dropped
two more tins of petrol and a case of filtrate oils. We thereupon
continued at a snail's pace, until at 9.15 the connecting rod broke
through the piston. We decided to abandon this sledge, and made a depot
of the spare clothing, seal meat, Xmas fare, ski belonging to Atkinson
and Wright, and four heavy cases of dog biscuit. I left a note in a
conspicuous position on the depot, which we finished constructing at
midnight. We wasted no time in turning in.
The clouds were radiating from the S.E., a precursor of blizzard, we
feared, and sure enough we got it next day, when it burst upon us whilst
we were putting on our footgear after breakfast. There was nothing for it
but to get back into our sleeping-bags, wherein we spent the day.
On the 31st we were out of our bags and about, soon after six, to find it
still drifting but showing signs of clearing. After breakfast we dug out
sledges, and Lashly and Day got the snow out of the motor, a long and
rotten job. The weather cleared about 11 a.m. and we got under way at
noon. It turned out very fine and we advanced our weights 7 miles 600
yards, camping at 10.40. P.M.
As will be seen, these were long days, and although he did not say it,
Day must have felt the crushing disappointment of the failure of the
motors--it was not his fault, it was a question of trial and experience.
Nowadays we have far more knowledge of air-cooled engines and such
crawling juggernauts as tanks, for it may well be argued that Scott's
motor sledges were the forerunners of the tanks.
On November 1 we advanced six miles and the motor then gave out. Day and
Lashly give it their undivided attention for hours, and the next day we
coaxed the wretched thing to Corner Camp and ourselves dragged the loads
Arrived at this important depot we deposited the dog pemmican and took on
three sacks of oats, but after proceeding under motor power for 1 1/2
miles, the big end brass of No. 1 cylinder went, so we discarded the car
and slogged on foot with a six weeks' food supply for one 4-man unit. Our
actual weights were 185 lb. per man. We got the whole 740 lb. on to the
10 ft. sledge, but with a head wind it was rather a heavy load. We kept
going at a mile an hour pace until 8 p.m.
I had left a note at the Corner Camp depot which told Scott of our trying
experiences: how the engines overheated so that we had to stop, how by
the time they were reasonably cooled the carburettor would refuse duty
and must be warmed up with a blow lamp, what trouble Day and Lashly had
had in starting the motors, and in short how we all four would heave with
all our might on the spans of the towing sledges to ease the starting
strain, and how the engines would give a few sniffs and then stop--but we
must not omit the great point in their favour: the motors advanced the
necessaries for the Southern journey 51 miles over rough, slippery, and
crevassed ice and gave the ponies the chance to march light as far as
Corner Camp--this is all that Oates asked for.
It was easier work now to pull our loads straight-forwardly South than to
play about and expend our uttermost effort daily on those "qualified"
Even Day confessed that his relief went hand in hand with his
disappointment. He and Hooper stood both over six feet, neither of them
had an ounce of spare flesh on them.
Lashly and I were more solid and squat, and we fixed our party up in
harness so that the tall men pulled in front while the short, heavy pair
dragged as "wheelers." Scott described our sledging here as "exceedingly
good going," we were only just starting, that is Lashly and myself, for
we two were in harness for more than three months on end.
I was very proud of the Motor Party, and determined that they should not
be overtaken by the ponies to become a drag on the main body. As it
happened, there was never a chance of this occurrence, for Scott
purposely kept down his marches to give the weaker animals a chance.
As will be seen, we were actually out-distancing the animal transport by
our average marches, for in spite of our full load we covered the
distances of 15 1/2 to 17 miles daily, until we were sure that we could
not be overtaken, before arriving at the appointed rendezvous in latitude
80 degrees 30 minutes.
Now was the time for marching though, fine weather, good surfaces, and
not too cold. The best idea, of our routine can be gleaned by a type
specimen diary page of this stage of the journey:
"_November_ 4, 1911.--Called tent at 4.50 a.m. and after building a
cairn started out at 7.25. Marched up to 'Blossom' cairn (Lat. 78
degrees 2 minutes 33 seconds S. Long. 169 degrees 3 minutes 25
seconds E.) where we tied a piece of black bunting to pull Crean's
leg--mourning for his pony. We lunched here and then marched on till
6.55 p.m., when we camped, our day's march being 15 miles 839 yards.
I built a snow cairn while supper was being prepared. Surface was very
good and we could have easily marched 20 miles, but, we were not
record breaking, but going easy till the ponies came up. All the same
we shall have to march pretty hard to keep ahead of them. Minimum
temperature: -12.7 degrees, temperature on camping +5 degrees."
We were very happy in our party, and when cooking we all sang and yarned,
nobody ever seemed tired once we got quit of the motors. We built cairns
at certain points to guide the returning parties. We had a light snowfall
on November 6 and occasional overcast, misty weather, but in general the
visibility was good, and although far out on the Barrier we got some view
of the Victoria Land mountain ranges. Very beautiful they looked, too,
but their very presence gave an awful feeling of loneliness.
I must admit it all had a dreadful fascination for me, and after the
others had got into their sleeping-bags I used to build up a large snow
cairn, and whilst resting, now and again I gazed wonderingly at that
The Bluff stood up better than the rest, as of course it was so much
nearer to us, and the green tent looked pitifully small and inadequate by
itself on the Barrier, nothing else human about us. Just the sledge trail
and the thrown-up snow on the tent valance, a confused whirl of sastrugi
leading in no direction particularly, a glistening sparkle here, there,
and everywhere when the sun was shining, and the far distant land sitting
Sphinx-like on the Western horizon, with its shaded white slopes, and its
bare outcrops of black basalt. Wilson in our "South Polar Times" wrote
some lines entitled, "The Barrier Silence"--sometimes the silence was
broken by howling blizzard, then and only then, except by the puny
handful of men who have passed this way. Only in Scott's first and
Shackleton's "Nimrod" Expedition had men ever come thus far.
We reached One Top Depot on November 9, and took on four cases of
biscuits and one pair of ski, which brought our loads up to 205 lb. per
man. Even this extra weight permitted us to keep our marches over 12
miles, but we had the virtue of being very early risers, a sledging habit
to which I owe my life.
We snatched many an hour outward and home, ward due to this.
In Latitude 80 degrees we found an extraordinary change in the surface:
so soft in fact that we found ourselves sinking in from 8 to 10
inches--this gave us a very hard day on 13th November when, with load
averaging over 190 lb. per man, we hauled through it for 12 miles. Fears
were expressed for the ponies at this stretch, for here they would be
pulling full loads. The 14th offered no better conditions of surface, but
we stuck it out for 10 hours' solid foot slogging, when we camped after
hauling 12 miles.
Apart from the surface we enjoyed the weather, a wonderful calm and
beautiful blue sky. On November 15, after building a guiding snow cairn,
we continued southward to Lat. 80 degrees 31 minutes 40 seconds S. Long.
169 degrees 23 minutes E., where we camped to await Scott, his party, and
the ponies. I proposed to build an enormous cairn here to mark the 80 1/2
degree depot, so after lunch we inspected ourselves and found nothing
worse than sunburnt faces and a slight thinning down all round.
We commenced the cairn after a short rest.
November 16 passed quietly with no signs of the ponies, and on November
17 we remained in camp all day wondering rather why the ponies had not
come up with us. We thought they must be doing very poor marching. To
employ our time we worked hours at the cairn, which soon assumed gigantic
proportions. We called it Mount Hooper after our youngest member. Day
amused us very distinctly at Mount Hooper Camp.
Day, gaunt and gay, but what a lovable nature if one can apply such an
adjective to him. He entertained the rest of us for a week out of
"Pickwick Papers." The proper number of hours in the forenoon were spent
in building the giant depot cairn, then lunch, and then the cosy
sleeping-bags and Day's reading. It was unforgettable, and I think we all
watched his face, which took somehow the expression of the character he
was reading about.
We put in a good deal of sleep in those days and went walks, such as they
were, in a direct line away from the tent and directly back to the tent.
We must surely have been the first in the world to spend a week
holiday-making on that frozen Sahara, the Great Ice Barrier.
There is little enough to record during this wait at Mount Hooper. We
could have eaten more than our ration, and to save fuel we occasionally
had dry hoosh for supper, which means that we broke all our biscuits up
and melted the pemmican over the primus, half fried the biscuit in the
fat pemmican, and made a filling dish. The temperature varied between
twenty below zero and a couple of degrees above.
November 20 found us growing impatient, for I find in my diary that day:
"Once again we find no signs of the ponies: we all say D---- and look
forward to the next meal: Day reads more Pickwick to us and keeps us
out of mischief. I got sights for error and rate of chronometer
watches, but these are not satisfactory with so short an epoch as our
stay at Mount Hooper, when change in altitude is so slow. Beyond
working out the sights I did really nothing. Temperature at 8 p.m. +7
degrees, Wind South-West 3-4. Cirrus clouds radiating from S.W.
Minimum temperature -14 degrees."
But at last relief from our inactivity came to us. On 21st November, just
before 5 a.m., Lashly woke me and said the ponies had arrived. Out we all
popped to find Atkinson with poor, old "Jehu," Wright with "Chinaman,"
and Keohane with my old friend "James Pigg."
They looked tired, the ponies' leaders, and we looked as though we had
come out of a bull fight in a barn, with our hair grown long and full of
the loose reindeer hairs from the sleeping-bags, all mixed with our
beards and jerseys. After hallos and handshakes, smiles and grunts, we
asked for news, and were gratified to find that all was well with men and
beasts alike. What delay there was was due to blizzards and to the
marches being purposely kept down to give the weaker animals a chance:
Day facetiously remarked, "We haven't seen anything of Amundsen"--seeing
that the valiant Norseman was in Latitude 85 degrees 30 minutes S. nearly
eleven thousand feet up above the altitude of the Barrier at this date
one is not surprised.
For all our peace of mind it was well we did not know it.
We yarned away about ourselves and our experiences, then got our cooker
under way to have breakfast and to await the arrival of Captain Scott and
the seven lustier ponies. They arrived before our breakfast was ready;
more greetings and much joy in the motor party. Scott expressed his
satisfaction at our share in the advance, hurriedly gave us further
instructions, and then proceeded, leaving us to join at their camp 3 1/2
miles farther south: Accordingly we deposited a unit of provisions at the
cairn, put up a bamboo with a large black flag on it, left two of the
boxes of biscuit from One Ton Depot and three tins of paraffin, and then
We came up to the Main Camp at 10 o'clock in the forenoon, pitched our
tent, had a conference with Captain Scott, cadged some biscuits, and then
cooked lunch and got into our sleeping-bags to await the hour of 6 p.m.
before commencing our southward march as pioneers and trail breakers.
Scott had with him the following, leading ponies: Wilson, Oates, Bowers,
Cherry-Garrard, Edgar Evans, and Crean, besides the aforesaid three with
Meares and Dimitri drove dog teams and every one was in good health and
sparkling spirits. Our leader ordered the motor party, or man-hauling
party, as we were now termed, to go forward and advance 15 miles daily,
and to erect cairns at certain prearranged distances, surveying,
navigating, and selecting the camping site. The ponies were to march by
night and rest when the sun was high and the air warmer. Meares's dogs
were to bring up the rear--and start some hours after the ponies since
their speed was so much greater.
So we started away at 8.15 p.m., marched 7 miles and a bittock to lunch,
putting up a "top-hat" cairn at 4 miles, two cairns at the lunch camp,
one cairn three miles beyond, and so on according to plan.
Atkinson's tent gave us some biscuit, cheese, and seal liver, so that day
we lived high. After lunch we continued until the prescribed distance had
been fully covered.
We noticed that there were ice crystals like spikes, with no glide about
them, and the surface continued thus until 3 a.m. when there was a sudden
change for the better. Quite substantial pony walls were built by the
horsemen when they camped--all these marks ensuring a homeward marching
route like a buoyed channel.
THE BARRIER STAGE
Depots were made every 65 miles: they were marked by big black flags
flying from bamboos, and we saw one of them, Mount Hooper, nine miles
away. Each depot contained one week's rations for every returning unit.
That outward Barrier march will long be remembered, it was so full of
life, health, and hope--our only sad days came when the ponies were
killed, one by one. But hunger soon defeated sentiment, and we grew to
relish our pony-meat cooked in the pemmican "hoosh."
On November 24 Oates slew poor old "Jehu" by a pistol shot in Latitude 81
degrees 15 minutes--this being the first pony to go. The dogs had a fine
feed from the poor animal's carcass, and Meares was very glad, likewise
Incidentally, the dogs were not the only ones who feasted on "Jehu's"
flesh. Pony-meat cooks very well, and it was a rare delicacy to us, the
As will be gathered, Scott proposed to kill pony after pony as a
readjustment to full load became possible with the food and fodder
consumption. The travelling now was a vastly different matter to the work
of the autumn. The weather was fine and the going easy. Every day made
sledging more pleasant, for the ponies had got into their swing, and the
sun's rays shed appreciable warmth. Although we spoke of day and night
still, it must be remembered that there was really no longer night, for
the sun merely travelled round our heavens throughout the twenty-four
hours. Its altitude at midnight would be about 12 or 13 degrees, whilst
at noon it would have risen to 28 or 29.
Some of the days of travel were without incident almost, the men leading
their ponies in monotonous file across the great white waste. The ponies
gave little trouble; Meares's dogs, with more dash, contained their
drivers' attention always.
Day and Hooper turned back in Latitude 81 degrees 15 minutes at "Jehu's"
grave, and Atkinson, his erstwhile leader, joined the man-haulers. The
two who now made their way homeward found considerable difficulty in
hauling the sledge, so they bisected it and packed all their gear on a
half sledge. They were accompanied by two invalid dogs, Cigane and
Stareek, and their adventures homeward bound were more amusing than
dangerous--the dogs were rogues and did their best to rob the sledge
during the sleeping hours. In due course Day and Hooper reached Cape
Evans none the worse for their Barrier trudge.
Wright's pony, Chinaman, was shot on November 28, and the Canadian joined
the man-haulers. We were glad of his company and his extra weight.
On November 29 we passed Scott's farthest South, (82 degrees 17 minutes),
and near this date had light snow and thick weather.
On November 30 we had a very hard pull, the Barrier surface being covered
with prismatic crystals--without any glide we felt we might as well be
hauling the sledges over ground glass, but diversion in the shape of
Land-oh: I think I sighted Mount Hope refracted up, and pointed it out to
On December 1 we began to converge the coast rapidly, and we were only
thirty miles from the nearest land. The view magnificent, though lonely
and awful in its silence. One would very soon go mad without company down
December 1 saw the end of "Christopher," but as the soldier fired his
pistol at him the pony threw up his head and the bullet failed to kill,
although passing through the beast's forehead. Christopher ran to the
lines bleeding profusely, but Keohane and I kept him from the other
ponies, and Oates shortly after put another bullet into the wretched
animal, which dropped him. Christopher was no loss, as he gave endless
trouble on the Barrier march. However, he was tender enough, as we found
when Meares cut him up for the dogs and brought our tent a fine piece of
On December 2 we had a trying time, starting off in a perfectly poisonous
light, which strained our eyes and made them very painful. It snowed
almost incessantly throughout the day. Nevertheless we had a dim, sickly
sun visible which helped the steering. As the pony food was running short
the pony "Victor" was shot on camping.
I visited Meares and Dimitri in the dog-tent, and they gave me some
"overs" in the shape of cocoa and biscuit, for which I was truly
grateful, as I had been hungry for a month.
A blizzard started on December 4, which delayed us for some hours. Our
party found it had a surplus of 27 whole biscuits--no one could account
for this; we told Bowers, however, and he did not seem surprised, so I
think he shoved in a few biscuits here and there. He told me that some
tins carried 2 lb. more than was marked on them. We covered about 13
miles despite the bad weather beginning the day.
On December 4 we arrived within 12 miles of Shackleton's gap or Southern
Gateway: we could see the outflow of the Beardmore Glacier stretching
away to our left like a series of huge tumbling waves. As we advanced
southwards hopes ran high, for we still had the dogs and five ponies to
help us. Scott expected to camp on the Beardmore itself after the next
march, but bad luck, alas, was against us. The land visible extended from
S.S.W. through S. to N.W. More wonderful peaks or wedge-shaped spines of
snow-capped rock. The first and least exciting stage of our journey was
practically complete. A fifth pony was sacrificed to the hungry
dogs--"Michael," of whom Cherry Garrard had only good words to say--but
then the altruistic Cherry only spoke good words. We did over 17 miles on
December 4, heading for the little tributary glacier which Shackleton
named the Gap; it bore S. 9 degrees E. fifteen miles distant when we put
up our tent.
Whilst marching well ahead of the pony party we unconsciously dropped
into a hollow of an undulation, and foolishly did not spot it when we
paused to build a cairn. Continuing our march we looked back to find no
cairn. This first indicated to us the existence of undulations in the
neighbourhood, and we frequently lost the ponies to view.
We appreciated that we were outdistancing them, however, and camped at 8
It being my cooking week, and, as we fondly imagined, our penultimate day
on the Great Ice Barrier, combined with a very good march and a very
bright outlook, we had an extra fine hoosh; it contained the full
allowance of pemmican, a pannikin full of pony flesh cut in little
slices, about 1 1/2 pints of crushed biscuit from our surplus, and some
four ounces of cornflour with pepper and salt.
I also had the pleasure of issuing four biscuits each, or twice the
ration, Meares and Dimitri having given us eight whole biscuits which
they spared from their supply.
The dog drivers were not so ravenous as the man-hauling party, which was
natural, but still it was uncommonly generous of them to give us part of
their ration for nothing.
I made an extra strong whack of cocoa, as we still had some of my private
tea left, so could save cocoa. I brought tea in lieu of tobacco in my
personal bag. At least that night the man-hauling party turned in on full
We were all tired out and asleep in no time, confident and expectant, but
before enjoying the comfort and warmth of our sleeping-bags had an
admiring look at the land stretched out before us, and particular
application of the eye to the Gap or Southern Gateway, which seemed to
say "Come on."
So far on the journey I have not mentioned the word "blizzard" seriously,
for we had not hitherto been hampered severely. The 5th December was in
truth a Black Day for all. Once more the demon of bad luck held the trump
cards against us. Another blizzard started, which tore our chances of any
great success to ribbons--it was the biggest knock-down blow that Scott
sustained in the whole history of his expedition to date. Here he was, a
day's march from the Beardmore Glacier, with fourteen men, in health and
high fettle, with dogs, ponies, food, and everything requisite for a
great advance, but it was not to be, our progress was barred for four
whole days, and during that period we had essentially to be kept on full
ration, for it would have availed us nothing to lose strength in view of
what we must yet face in the way of physical effort and hardship--we were
but one day's march from Mount Hope, our ponies had to be fed, the dogs
had to be fed, but they could do no work for their food. There was
nothing for it but cheerful resignation. Our tent breakfasted at the
aristocratic hour of 10.15 a.m., and Atkinson and I went out to fill the
cooker afterwards--the drift was terrible and the snow not fine as usual,
but in big flakes driving in a hard wind from S.S.E. It was not very
cold, perhaps it would have helped things later if it had been. Our tents
quickly snowed up for nearly three feet to leeward. In the camp we could
only sleep and eat, the tent space became more and more congested, and
those lying closest to the walls of the tents were cramped by the weight
of snow which bore down on the canvas. The blizzard on the second day
pursued its course with unabated violence, the temperature increased,
however, and we experienced driving sleet. The tent floor cloths had
pools of water on them, and water dripped on our faces as we lay in our
sleeping-bags. Outside the scene was miserable enough, the poor ponies
cowering behind their snow walls the picture of misery. Their more
fortunate companions, the dogs, lay curled in snug balls covered in snow
and apparently oblivious to the inclemency of the weather. Our lunch at
5.30 broke the monotony of the day.
We had supper somewhere near 9 p.m. and then slept again.
December 6 found still greater discomfort, for we had sleet and actually
rain alternating. The wind continued and ploughed and furrowed the
surface into a mash. Our tents became so drifted up that we had hardly
room to lie down in our bags. I fancied the man-haulers were better off
than the other tents through having made a better spread, but no doubt
each tent company was sorrier for the others than for itself. We
occasionally got out of our bags to clear up as far as we were able, but
we couldn't sit around and look foolish, so when not cooking and eating
we spent our time in the now saturated bags. The temperature rose above
freezing point, and the Barrier surface was 18 inches deep in slush.
Water percolated everywhere, trickling down the tent poles and dripping
constantly at the tent door.
We caught this water in the aluminium tray of our cooker.
The ponies arrived at the state of having to be dug out every now and
again. They were wretchedness itself, standing heads down, feet together,
knees bent, the picture of despair. Hard and cruel as it may seem, it was
planned that we should keep them alive, ekeing out their fodder until
December 9, when it was proposed that we should use them to drag our
loads for 12 miles and shoot them, the last pound of work extracted from
the wretched little creatures.
I am ashamed to say I was guilty of an unuttered complaint after visiting
the ponies, for I wrote in my diary for December 6 concerning the five
remaining Siberian ponies:
"I think it would be fairer to shoot them now, far what is a possible
12 miles' help? We could now, pulling 200 lb. per man, start off with
the proper man-hauling parties and our total weights, so why keep
these wretched animals starving and shivering in the blizzard on a
mere chance of their being able to give us a little drag? Why, our
party have never been out of harness for nearly 400 miles, so why
should not the other eight men buckle to and do some dragging instead
of saving work in halfpenny numbers?"
Still, it is worthy of mention that on the day the ponies did their last
march every man amongst their leaders gave half his biscuit ration to his
This dreadful blizzard was a terrific blow to Oates. He of all men set
himself to better the ponies' state during the bad weather. The animals
lost condition with a rapidity that was horrible to observe. The cutting
wind whirling the sleet round the ponies gave them a very sorry time, but
whenever one peeped out of the tent door there was Oates, wet to the
skin, trying to keep life in his charges. I think the poor soldier
suffered as much as the ponies. He had felt that every time he re-entered
his tent (which was also Captain Scott's) that he took in more wet snow
and helped to increase the general discomfort. This being the case when
he went out to the ponies, he stopped out, and kept his vigil crouching
behind a drifted up pony-wall. We others could not help laughing at him,
after the blizzard, when he wrung the icy water out of his clothing. His
personal bag was in a fearful state, his sodden tobacco had discoloured
everything, and as he squeezed his spare socks and gloves a stream of
nicotine-stained water flowed out. I am unable to reproduce his
observations on the subject--they were dry, picturesque, and to the
point, and even our bluejackets, who were none too particular about
language, looked at Oates with undisguised astonishment at the length and
variety of his emergency vocabulary.
December 7 showed no change: the blizzard was continuous, food our only
comfort. Personally I read Atkinson's copy of "Little Dorrit," for it
sufficed nothing to despair; we could not move, and one had to be
Next day we had less wind, but it snowed most of the day. We did, all the
same, get glimpses of the sun and one of the land. Dug out all sledges
and hauled them clear, then tried the surface, and to Scott's and our own
surprise my party hauling on ski dragged the sledge with four big men
sitting on it over the surface as much as we chose.
I had thought it beyond our power, it is true. We then returned to camp.
Without ski one sank more than knee deep in the snow. The horses were
quite unable to progress, sinking to their bellies, so no start was made.
We shifted our tent and re-spread it on new snow well trampled down. This
brief respite from our sleeping-bags freed our cramped limbs. Weather
improved and we did not find it necessary after all to get back into our
bags, for it was still warm and quite pleasant sitting in the tent.
What a sight the camp had presented before we started digging out. The
ponies like drowned rats, their manes and tails dank and dripping, a
saturated blotting-paper look about their green horse cloths, eyes half
closed, mouths flabby and wet, each animal half buried in this Antarctic
morass, the old snow walls like sand dunes after a storm.
The green tents just peeping through the snow, mottled and beaten in, as
it were, all sledges well under, except for here and there a red paraffin
oil tin and the corner of an instrument box peeping out. Our ski-sticks
and ski alone stood up above it all, and those sleeping-bags,
ugh--rightly the place was christened "Shambles Camp."
On December 9 the blizzard was really over; we completed the digging out
of sledges and stores and wallowed sometimes thigh-deep whilst getting
the ponies out of their snow-drifted shelters. Then we faced probably the
hardest physical test we had had since the bailing out in the great gale
a year ago. We had breakfast and got away somewhere about 8 a.m. My party
helped the pony sledges to get away for a mile or two; the poor brutes
had a fearful struggle, and so did we in the man-hauling team. We panted
and sweated alongside the sledges, and when at last Captain Scott sent us
back to bring up our own sledge and tent we were quite done. Arrived at
the Shambles Camp we cooked a little tea, and then wearily hauled our
sledge for hour after hour until we came up with the Boss, dead
cooked--we had struggled and wallowed for nearly 15 hours. The others had
certainly an easier time but a far sadder time, for, they had to coax the
exhausted ponies along and watch their sufferings, knowing that they must
kill the little creatures on halting.
Oh, Lord--what a day we had of it. Fortunately we man-haulers missed the
"slaughter of the innocents," as some one termed the pony killing. When
we got to the stopping place all five ponies had been shot and cut up for
dog and man food.
This concluded our Barrier march: the last was tragic enough in its
disappointment, but one felt proud to be included in such a party, and
none, of us survivors can forget the splendid efforts of the last five
Meantime Roald Amundsen had a gale in Lat. 87-88 degrees on December 5,
with falling and drifting snow, yet not too bad to stop his party
travelling: he was 11,000 feet above our level at this time and covering
25 miles a day. He also experienced thick weather but light wind on the
7th December and on the day of our sorrowful march he was scuttling along
beyond Shackleton's farthest South, indeed close upon the 89th Parallel.
It is just as well we did not know it too.
ON THE BEARDMORE GLACIER AND BEYOND
Probably no part of the Southern journey was enjoyed more thoroughly than
that stage which embraced the ascent of the Beardmore Glacier. Those who
survive it can only have refreshing reminiscences of this bright chapter
in our great sledge excursion. Scientifically it was by far the most
interesting portion travelled over, and to the non-scientific it
presented something interesting every day, if only in the shape, colour,
and size of the fringing rocks and mountains--a vast relief from the
monotony of the Barrier travel.
First we had Mount Hope at the lower end of the Glacier. Mount Hope is a
nunatak of granite, about 2800 feet in height, of which the summit is
strewn with erratics, giving evidence of former glaciation of far greater
This was the first land we had passed close to since leaving Hut Point
six weeks previously, and now we had roughly 150 miles of travelling,
with something to look at, some relief for the eyes to rest on in place
of that dazzling white expanse of Barrier ice, with its glitter and
sparkle, so tiring to the eyes. We knew that we must expect crevasses
now, hidden and bare, and we also knew that we must every day rise our
camps until we reached the plateau summit in 10,000 feet. The Beardmore
itself is about 120 miles in length and from 10 to 30 miles wide. We had
no geologist with us, but specimens have been collected by Shackleton's
people, and our own members, particularly Scott's Polar sledge party,
which are sufficient to give a history of this part of Antarctica.
December 10 showed our party on to the Glacier, but we were not "out of
the wood" by this date. For we had some hard graft marching up the steep
incline called by Shackleton the Southern Gateway. We had made a depot of
three ten-foot sledges in good condition to be used for the homeward
journey over the Barrier by each returning unit--realising that the
descent of the Glacier would knock our sledges about and most likely
break them up to some extent.
We were now organised into three teams of four, pulling 170 lb. per man,
and in this formation we made the advance up the Glacier.
The teams were as follows:
1.--Scott. 2.--Evans (Lieut.) 3.--Bowers.
Wilson. Atkinson. Cherry-Garrard
Oates. Wright. Crean.
Evans (Seaman). Lashly. Keohane.
With us we kept the dog teams pulling 600 lb. of our own weights and the
200 lb. gross for placing in the Lower Glacier Depot.
Soft snow made the dragging very heavy, and in the afternoon, working on
ski, I am sorry to say my party dropped astern and got into camp an hour
late--it could not be helped, we had borne the brunt of the hard work;
Lashly and I had man-hauled daily for five weeks, and Atkinson and Wright
for some time also. I had a long talk next morning after breakfast with
Captain Scott. He was disappointed with our inability to keep up with the
speed of the main party, but I pointed out that we could not expect to do
the same as fresh men--the other eight had only put on the sledge harness
for the first time on December 10: Scott agreed, but seemed worried and
fretful. However that may be, we got into the lunch camp first of the
three sledges, to have our short-lived triumph turned to disaster by a
very poor show after the meal--Scott was much disappointed and
dissatisfied: he appeared to think Atkinson was done; Wilson said Wright
was played out and Lashly tired. They both seemed to think I was all
right, but all the same I felt that my unit had been called on to do more
than its share and was suffering as a natural consequence. The depot was
built in a conspicuous position, and this done, Meares's work ended. He
and Dimitri came along with us for a while and then turned back for a
long, lonely run over the inhospitable Barrier.
To help us Meares and the Russian dog-boy had travelled farther South
than their return rations allowed for, and for the 450 mile Northward
march to Cape Evans the two of them went short one meal a day rather than
deplete the depots. It is a dreadful thing on an Antarctic sledge journey
to forfeit a whole meal daily, and Meares's generosity should not be
The advance of Scott's men up the Beardmore was retarded considerably by
the deep, wet snow which had accumulated in the lower reaches of the
Panting and sweating we could only make 4 mile marches until the 13th
December, and even then the soft snow was 18 inches deep. On the 14th we
made a good 9 miles, but only by dint of our utmost efforts--we worked on
ski, and I tremble to think what we should have done here without them.
The aneroids gave us a rise of about 500 feet a day. Things were
improving now, and on December 15 we passed the 84 degree parallel--about
this time we succeeded in covering 9 to 10 miles daily, and to do this we
marched that same number of hours. A good deal of snow covering the
mountain ranges, but some remarkable outcrops of rock to vary the
scenery. The temperature was very high, and we were punished severely on
this account, for the snow was like beef dripping, and we flopped about
in it and hove our sledges along with no glide whatever to help us move
forward. Such panting, puffing, and sweating, but all in good humour and
bent on doing our best. Snowing hard in the latter part of the afternoon
just as the surface was improving--we were forced to camp before the
proper time on this account. On camping we calculated that we were 2500
feet above the Barrier, the surface promising better things, for there
was hard blue ice six inches from the surface, and the snow itself was
fairly close-packed and good for ski.
On December 16 we were out of our sleeping bags at 5 and we were under
way by 7 a.m., marching till noon, when we lunched and took sights and
angles. The surface remained fairly good until 2 p.m., when it took an
unaccountable turn for the worse. We covered 12 miles.
Several of us dropped a leg down crevasses here and there, nothing
alarming. We reached 3000 feet altitude, and the day ended in the most
perfect weather. For the first time since leaving Corner Camp we felt
that our ration was sufficient; we had now commenced the "Summit ration,"
which contained considerable extra fats. Snow-blindness caused trouble
here and there, due principally to our removing our goggles when they
clouded up--due to sweating so much in the high temperature. The goggles,
which Wilson was responsible for, served excellently. Yellow and orange
glasses were popular, but some preferred green. As we progressed and our
eyes had to be used for long periods without glasses for clearing
crevasses, etc., we found that a double glass acted best, and used this
whenever the going was easy and goggles could be used.
The contrast between the goggled and the ungoggled state was
extraordinary--when one lifted one's orange-tinted snow glasses it was to
find a blaze of light that could scarcely be endured. Snow-blindness gave
one much the same sensations as those experienced by standing over a
smoking bonfire keeping eyes open.
Sunday, December 17, differed from the preceding days, for we got into
huge pressure ridges--we hauled our sledges up these and tobogganed down
the other sides, progressing half the forenoon thus. We wore our
excellent crampons and made lighter work of our loads than we had done
since facing the Beardmore, and now that the summer season was well
advanced the surface snow on the Glacier had mostly disappeared through
the effects of the all day sun added to the early summer winds. The
clouding of our goggles made the crevasses more difficult to spot, and
one or other of the party got legs or feet down pretty often.
This and the following day were precursors to good marches and easy
times. We made the Mid-Glacier Depot in Latitude 84 degrees 33 minutes 6
seconds S., Longitude 169 degrees 22 minutes 2 seconds E., and set
therein one half-week's provision. We marked the depot cairn with bamboo
and red flag to show up against the ice as well as to contrast with the
land. Hitherto only black flags had been employed to mark depots.
The weather and surface were both in our favour at last. It was sunny,
warm, and clear now, and there was nothing to impede us. Wilson did a
large amount of sketching on the Beardmore--his sketches, besides being
wonderful works of art, helped us very much in our surveys.
Fringing the great glittering river of ice were dark granite and dolerite
hills, some were snow-clad and some quite bare, for their steepness
resisted the white cloak of this freezing clime. The new hills were
surveyed, headlands plotted, and names bestowed where Shackleton had not
already done so. Of course we had Shackleton's charts, diaries, and
experience to help us. We often discussed Shackleton's journey, and were
amazed at his fine performance. We always had full rations, which
Shackleton's party never enjoyed at this stage. After December 17 our
marches worked up from 13 to 23 miles a day.
Shackleton bestowed the name of Queen Alexandra Range on the huge
mountains to the westward of the Beardmore.
The most conspicuous is the "Cloudmaker," which he gives as 9.971--I like
the 1 foot when heights are so hard to determine hereabouts! To the three
secondary ranges, on the S.W. extreme of the Beardmore, nearly in 85
degrees, he gave the names Adams, Marshall, and Wild, after his three
companions on the farthest South march. To get into one's head what we
had to look at on the upper half of the Beardmore, imagine a moderate
straight slope: this is the Glacier like a giant road, white except where
the sun has melted the snow and bared the blue ice. Looking up the
Glacier an overhang of ice-falls and disturbances, with three nunataks or
mountains sticking through the ice-sheet like islands--the disturbance is
mostly to the left (Eastwards) of these, and the road here looks cruelly
steep even where it is not broken up. Down the Glacier the great white
way is broken here and there where tributary glaciers join it, and above
the Cloudmaker the glacier is cut up badly in several places, how badly
we were not to know until the middle of January, 1912--but of that more
anon. To the left (S.E.) a great broad river of ice, the Mill Glacier,
and so on.
The land is extraordinary--gigantic snow drifts like huge waves breaking
against a stone pier beset the lower cliff faces and steeper slopes, then
dark red-brown rock carved by glaciers long since vanished, and above
this rocky bands of limestone, sandstone; and dolerite. Some rocky talus
showing through the big snow drifts, and in some cases talus alone.
From my letter to be taken by the next homeward party in case I missed
"The Wild range is extraordinary in its curious stratification, and
one feels when gazing at it some-thing of a wish to scramble along the
crests, if only to feel land underfoot instead of ice, ice, ice.
"The prevailing colours here are blacks, grays, reds, like the cliffs
at Teignmouth and Exmouth, and another more chocolate red. Then the
whites in all kind of shade--fancy different shades of white, but
there are here any amount of them, and a certain sparkle of blue ice
down the Glacier where the sun is shining on it that reminds one of a
tropical sea. Except when marching we don't spend much time out of our
tents, but I take a breather now and again when surveying, and then I
sit on a sledge-box and wonder what is in store for us and where all
this will lead us. Amundsen has certainty not come this way, although
dogs could work here easily enough."
On December 20 Scott came into our tent after supper and told us that the
first return party would be Atkinson (in charge), Wright, Cherry-Garrard,
and Keohane, and that they would turn back after the next day's march.
We were all very sad, but each one thus detailed loyally abided by the
decision of our chief. I worked till nearly midnight getting out copy of
route and bearings for Wright to navigate back on.
Here is a specimen page of my diary:
"Out at 5.45 a.m. and away at 8. Had a very heavy pull up steep slope
close to S.E. point of Buckley Island. Passed over many crevasses and
dropped into some. Once I fell right down in a bottomless chasm to
the length of my harness. I was pulled out by the others, Bowers and
Cherry helping with their Alpine rope. Not hurt but amused. All of us
dropped often to our waists and Atkinson completely disappeared once,
but we got him out. We got into a very bad place at noon, and a fog
coming on had to stop and lunch as one could not see far. This has
been our worst day for crevasses up to now, some of them are 100 feet
across, but well bridged.
"It was very cold, with a sharp southerly wind when we started, but
later on got quite warm. We rose 1130 feet in the forenoon and made 5
miles 1565 yards up to lunch. We started again at 3 o'clock, and the
fog lifting, we made a good march for the day: 11 miles 200 yards
geographical (Stat. 12 miles 1388 yards). In the afternoon we had a
very heavy drag and did not camp till 7.30 p.m., about 4 miles S. 30
degrees W. of Mount Darwin (summit), Latitude 85 degrees 7 minutes S.,
Longitude 163 degrees 4 minutes E.
"Our height above the Barrier is 7750 feet by aneroid.
"Had a fine hoosh with a full pannikin of pony meat added to celebrate
our 'De-tenting,' which takes place to-morrow morning. We make a depot
here with half a week's provision for two parties."
We repacked the sledges after breakfast. This place was called the Upper
Glacier Depot--and it marked the commencement of the third and final
stage of the Poleward Journey. We said good-bye to Atkinson's party, and
they started down the Glacier after depositing the foodstuffs they had
sledged up the Beardmore for the Polar Party and the last supporting
party. Atkinson and his tent-mates now had to face a homeward march of
584 miles. They spent Christmas Day collecting geological specimens, and
reached Cape Evans on January 28. They had some sickness in the shape of
enteritis and slight scurvy, but Dr. Atkinson's care and medical
knowledge brought them through safely. Captain Scott with his two sledge
teams now pushed forward, keeping an average speed of 15 miles per day,
with full loads of 190 lb. a man.
When we started off we were:
Seaman Evans Lashly.
We steered S.W. to begin with to avoid the great pressure ridges and ice
falls which barred our way to the South. We began to rise very
perceptibly, and, looking back after our march, realised what enormous
frozen falls stretch across the top of the Beardmore. I noted that these,
with Scott's consent should be called "The Shackleton Ice Falls,"
according to _his_ track he went _up_ them. When we looked back on
starting our march we could see the depot cairn with a black flag tied to
a pair of 10 foot sledge runners for quite three miles--it promised well
for picking up. Next day we were away early, marching 8 1/2 miles to
lunch camp, and getting amongst crevasses as big as Regent Street, all
We rushed these and had no serious falls; the dangerous part is at the
edge of the snow bridge, and we frequently fell through up to our armpits
just stepping on to or leaving the bridge. We began now to experience the
same tingling wind that Shackleton speaks of, and men's noses were
frequently frost-bitten. On Christmas Eve we were 8000 feet above the
Barrier, and we imagined we were clear of crevasses and pressure ridges.
We now felt the cold far more when marching than we had done on the
The wind all the time turned our breath into cakes of ice on our beards.
Taking sights when we stopped was a bitterly cold job: fingers had to be
bared to work the little theodolite screws, and in the biting wind one's
finger-tips soon went. Over 16 miles were laid behind us on Christmas Eve
when we reached Latitude 85 degrees 35 minutes S., Longitude 159 degrees
8 minutes E. I obtained the variation of the compass here--179 degrees 35
minutes E., so that we were between the Magnetic and Geographical Poles.
The temperature down to 10 degrees below zero made observing unpleasant,
when one had cooled down and lost vitality at the end of the day's march.
Christmas Day, 1911, found our two tiny green tents pitched on the King
Edward VII. Plateau--the only objects that broke the monotony of the
great white glittering waste that stretches from the Beardmore Glacier
Head to the South Pole. A light wind was blowing from the South, and
little whirls of fine snow, as fine as dust, would occasionally sweep
round the tents and along the sides of the sledge runners, streaming away
almost like smoke to the Northward. Inside the tents breathing heavily
were our eight sleeping figures--in these little canvas shelters soon
after 4 a.m. the sleepers became restless and occasionally one would
wake, glance at one's watch, and doze again. Exactly at 5 a.m. our leader
shouted "Evans," and both of us of that name replied, "Right-o, sir."
Immediately all was bustle, we scrambled out of our sleeping-bags, only
the cook remaining in each tent. The others with frantic haste filled the
aluminium cookers with the gritty snow that here lay hard and windswept.
The cookers filled and passed in, we, gathered socks, finnesko, and
putties off the clothes lines which we had rigged between the ski which
struck upright in the snow to save them from being drifted over in the
night. The indefatigable Bowers swung his thermometer in the shade until
it refused to register any lower, glanced at the clouds, made a note or
two in his miniature meteorological log book, and then blew on his
tingling fingers, noted the direction of the wind, and ran to our tent.
Inside all had lashed up their bags and converted them into seats, the
primus stove burnt with a curious low roar, and peculiar smell of
paraffin permeated the tent. By the time we had changed our footgear the
savoury smell of the pemmican proclaimed that breakfast was ready. The
meal was eaten with the same haste that had already made itself apparent.
A very short smoke sufficed, and Captain Scott gave the signal to strike
camp. Out went everything through the little round door, down came both
tents, all was packed in a jiffy on the two 12-foot sledges, each team
endeavouring to be first, and in an incredibly short space of time both
teams swung Southward, keeping step, and with every appearance of perfect
health. But a close observer, a man trained to watch over men's health,
over athletes training, perhaps, would have seem something amiss.
The two teams, in spite of the Christmas spirit, and the "Happy
Christmas" greetings, they exchanged to begin with, soon lost their
springy step, the sledges dragged more slowly, and we gazed ahead almost
Yes, the strain was beginning to tell, though none of us would have
confessed it. Lashly and I had already pulled a sledge of varying
weight--but mostly a loaded one--over 600 miles, and all had marched this
During the forenoon something was seen ahead like the tide race over a
rocky ledge--it was another ice fall stretching from East to West, and it
had to be crossed, there could be no more deviation, for since Atkinson's
party turned we had been five points West of our course at times. Alas,
more wear for the runners of the sledge, which meant more labour to the
eight of us, so keen to succeed in our enterprise--soon we are in the
thick of it; first one slips and is thrown violently down, then a sledge
runs over the slope of a great ice wave.
The man trying to hold it back is relentlessly thrown, and the bow of the
sledge crashes on to the heel of the hindermost of those hauling ahead
with a thud that means "pain." But the victim utters no sound, just
smiles in answer to the anxious questioning gaze of his comrades.
Something happened in the last half of that Christmas forenoon. Lashly,
whose 44th birthday it was, celebrated the occasion by falling into a
crevasse 8 feet wide.
Our sledge just bridged the chasm with very little to spare each end, and
poor Lashly was suspended below, spinning round at the full length of his
harness, with 80 feet of clear space beneath him. We had great difficulty
in hauling him upon account of his being directly under the sledge. We
got him to the surface by using the Alpine rope. Lashly was none the
worse for his fall, and one of my party wished him a "Happy Christmas,"
and another "Many Happy Returns of the Day," when he had regained safety.
Lashly's reply was unprintable.
Soon after this accident we topped the ice fall or ridge, and halted for
lunch--we had risen over 250 feet, according to aneroid; it seemed funny
enough to find the barometer standing at 21 inches instead of 30.
Lunch camp, what a change. The primus stove fiercely roaring, the men
light up their pipes and talk Christmas--dear, cheery souls, how proud
Scott must have been of them; no reference to the discomforts of the
forenoon march, just brightness and the nicest thoughts for one another,
and for "those," as poor Wilson unconsciously describes them, by humming:
"Keep our loved ones, now far absent, 'neath Thy care." After a mug of
warming tea and two biscuits we strike camp, and are soon slogging on.
But the crevasses and icefalls have been overcome, the travelling is
better, and with nothing but the hard, white horizon before us, thoughts
wander away to the homeland--sweet little houses with well-kept gardens,
glowing fires on bright hearths, clean, snowy tablecloths and polished
silver, and then the dimpled, smiling faces of those we are winning our
spurs for. Next Christmas may we hope for it? Yes, it must be.
But with the exception of Lashly and Crean that daydream never came true,
for alas, those whose dearest lived for that Christmas _never_ came home,
and the one other spared lost his wife, besides his five companions.
The two teams struggled on until after 8 p.m., when at last Scott
signalled to camp. How tired we were--almost cross. But no sooner were
the tents up than eyes looked out gladly from our dirty, bearded faces.
Once again the cooker boiled, and for that night we had a really good
square meal--more than enough of everything--pemmican with pieces of pony
meat in it, a chocolate biscuit, "ragout" raisins, caramels, ginger,
cocoa, butter, and a double ration of biscuits. How we watched Bowers
cook that extra thick pemmican. Had he put too much pepper in? Would he
upset it? How many pieces of pony meat would we get each? But the careful
little Bowers neither burnt nor upset the hoosh: it was up to our wildest
expectations. No one could have eaten more.
After the meal we gasped, we felt so comfortable.
But we had such yarns of home, such plans were made for next Christmas,
and after all we got down our fur sleeping-bags, and for a change we were
quite warm owing to the full amount of food which we so sorely needed.
After the others in my tent were asleep, little Birdie Bowers, bidding me
"Good-night," said, "Teddy, if all is well next Christmas we will get
hold of all the poor children we can and just stuff them full of nice
things, won't we?"
It was unthinkable then that five out of the eight of us would soon be
lying frozen on the Great Ice Barrier, their lives forfeited by a series
of crushing defeats brought about by Nature, who alone metes out success
or failure to win back for those who venture into the heart of that
Our Latitude was now 85 degrees 50 minutes S., we were 8000 feet above
the Barrier. Temperature -8 degrees, with a fresh southerly wind, but we
didn't care that night how hard it blew or whether it was Christmas or
Easter. We had done 17 miles distance and success lay within our grasp
On the following day we were up at six and marched a good 15 miles south
with no opposition from crevasses or pressure ridges. The march over the
Plateau continued without incident--excepting that on December 28 my team
had a great struggle to keep up with Captain Scott's.
The surface was awfully soft, and though we discarded our outer garments
we sweated tremendously. At about 11 a.m. Scott and I changed places. I
found his sledge simply glided along whereas he found no such thing. The
difference was considerable. After lunch we changed sledges and left
Scott's team behind with ease. We stopped at the appointed time, and
after supper Captain Scott came into our tent and told us that we had
distorted our sledge by bad strapping or bad loading. This was, I think,
correct, because Oates had dropped his sleeping-bag off a few days back
through erring in the other direction and not strapping securely--we
meant to have no recurrence and probably racked our sledge by heaving too
hard on the straps.
The 29th was another day of very hard pulling. We were more than 9000
feet up--very nearly at the "summit of the summit." Quoting my diary I
find set down for December 30 and 31 as follows.
"Saturday, _December_ 30.
"Away at 8 a.m. Had a hell of a day's hauling. We worked independently
of the other sledge, camping for lunch at 1 p.m. about half a mile
astern of them. Then off again, and hauled till 7.15 p.m., when we
reached Captain Scott's camp, he being then stopped 3/4-hour. The
surface was frightful and they had a heavy drag. Our distance to-day
was 12 miles 1200 yards statute. We all turned in after our welcome
hoosh, too tired to write up diaries even.
"Bill came in and had a yarn while we drank our cocoa.
"We are now about 9200 feet above the Barrier, temperature falls to
about -15 degrees now. Position 86 degrees 49 minutes 9 seconds S.,
162 degrees 50 minutes E."
"Out at 5.45, and then after a yarn with Captain Scott and our welcome
pemmican, tea and biscuit. We in our tent depoted our ski, Alpine
rope, and ski shoes, saving a considerable weight. We then started off
a few minutes ahead of Captain Scott, and his team never got near us,
in fact they actually lost ground. We marched for 5 1/2 hours solid,
and had a good heavy drag, but not enough to distress us. We stopped
at 1.30 p.m., having done 8 miles 116 yards statute. After our lunch
we made a depot and put two weekly units in the snow cairn, which we
built and marked with a black flag. The seamen (Evans and Crean) and
Lashly spent the afternoon converting the 12 foot sledges to 10 foot
with the spare runners, while the remainder of us foregathered in
Captain Scott's tent, which Evans fitted with a lining to-day, making
it beautifully warm. We sat in the tents with the door open and the
sun shining in--doing odd jobs. I worked out sights and wrote up this
diary, which was a few days adrift. Temperature -10 degrees.
"We are now Past Shackleton's position for December 31, and it does
look as if Captain Scott were bound to reach the Pole. Position 86
degrees 55 minutes 47 minutes S., 175 degrees 40 minutes E.
"At 7 p.m. Captain Scott cooked tea for all hands.
"At 8 p.m. the first sledge was finished and the men went straight on
with the second. This was finished by midnight, and, having seen the
New Year in, we had a fine pemmican hoosh and went to bed."
New Year's Day found us in Latitude 87 degrees 7 minutes S. Height, 9300
feet above Barrier--a southerly wind, with temperature 14 degrees below
On 2nd January I found the variation to be exactly 180 degrees. A skua
gull appeared from the south and hovered round the sledges during the
afternoon, then it settled on the snow once or twice and we tried to
Did 15 miles with ease, but we were now only pulling 130 lb. per man.
On January 3 Scott came into my tent before we began the day's march and
informed me that he was taking his own team to the Pole. He also asked me
to spare Bowers from mine if I thought I could make the return journey of
750 miles short-handed--this, of course, I consented to do, and so little
Bowers left us to join the Polar party. Captain Scott said he felt that I
was the only person capable of piloting the last supporting party back
without a sledge meter. I felt very sorry for him having to break the
news to us, although I had foreseen it--for Lashly and I knew we could
never hope to be in the Polar party after our long drag out from Cape
We could not all go to the Pole--food would not allow this. Briefly then
it was a disappointment, but not too great to bear; it would have been an
unbearable blow to us had we known that almost in sight were Amundsen's
tracks, and that all our dragging and straining at the trace had been in
On 4th January we took four days' provision for three men and handed over
the rest of our load to Scott.
Then we three, Lashly, Crean, and myself, marched south to Latitude 87
degrees 34 minutes S. with the Polar party, and, seeing that they were
travelling rapidly yet easily, halted, shook hands all round, and said
good-bye, and since no traces of the successful Norwegian had been found
so far, we fondly imagined that our flag would be the first to fly at the
South Pole. We gave three huge cheers for the Southern party, as they
stepped off, and then turned our sledge and commenced our homeward march
of between 750 and 800 statute miles. We frequently looked back until we
saw the last of Captain Scott and his four companions--a tiny black speck
on the horizon, and little did we think that we would be the last to see
them alive, that our three cheers on that bleak and lonely plateau summit
would be the last appreciation they would ever know.
This day the excitement was intense, for it was obvious that with five
fit men--the Pole being only 140 geographical miles away--the achievement
was merely a matter of 10 or 11 days' good sledging.
Oates's last remark was cheerful: "I'm afraid, Teddy, you won't have much
of a 'slope' going back, but old Christopher is waiting to be eaten on
the Barrier when you get there."
RETURN OF THE LAST SUPPORTING PARTY
Scott had already made a great geographical journey in spite of adverse
weather conditions, which had severely handicapped him throughout, but he
was nevertheless behindhand in his expectations, and although the
attainment of the Pole was practically within his grasp, the long 900
mile march homeward from that spot had to be considered. It was
principally on this account that Captain Scott changed his marching
organisation and took Bowers from the last supporting party. After the
first day's homeward march I realised that the nine hours' marching day
was insufficient. We had to make average daily marches of 17 miles in
order to remain on full provisions whilst returning over that featureless
Although the first day northward bound was radiantly fine and the
travelling surface all that could be desired, we were compelled to push
on until quite late to ensure covering the prescribed distance--for a
short march on the first day would have augured a gloomy future for us.
Reluctant as I was to confess it to myself, I soon realised that the
ceding of one man from my party had been too great a sacrifice, but there
was no denying it, and I was eventually compelled to explain the
situation to Lashly and Crean and lay bare the naked truth. No man was
ever better served than I was by these two; they cheerfully accepted the
inevitable, and throughout our home-ward march the three of us literally
stole minutes and seconds from each day in order to add to our marches,
but it was a fight for life: The rarified air made our breathing more
difficult, and we suffered from shortness of breath whenever the
inequalities of the surface became severe, and sudden jerks conveyed
themselves to our tired bodies through the medium of the rope traces.
Day after day we fought our way northward over the high Polar tableland.
The silence now that we had no other party with us was ghastly, for
beyond the sound of our own voices and the groaning of the sledge runners
when the surface was bad there was no sound whatever to remind us of the
outer world. As mile after mile was covered our thoughts wandered from
the Expedition to those in our homeland, and thought succeeded thought
while the march progressed until the satisfying effect of the last meal
had vanished and life became one vast yearning for food.
Three days after leaving Captain Scott we encountered a blizzard and were
forced to continue our marches although faced with navigational
difficulties which made it impossible for us to maintain more than a very
rough northward direction. Muffled up tightly in our wind-proof clothing,
-we did all in our power to prevent the dust-fine snow-flakes which
whirled around from penetrating into the tiniest opening in our clothes.
The blizzard blinded and baffled us, forcing us always to turn our faces
from it. The stinging wind cut and slashed our cheeks like the constant
jab of a thousand frozen needle points.
This first blizzard which fell upon us lasted for three whole days, and
at the end of that time we found ourselves considerably wide of our
On the 7th January, in spite of a temperature of 22 degrees below zero, a
fresh southerly wind and driving snow, Lashly, Crean, and myself laid 19
miles behind us.
On the 8th we again covered this distance, although the weather was so
bad that we entirely lost the track, and on the following day, when the
blizzard was at its worst, we fought our way forward for over 16 miles.
When the blizzard eventually abated we had hazy weather, but got an
occasional glimpse of the sun, with which we corrected our course, and on
the 13th January my party found itself right above the Shackleton
Icefalls, and gazed down upon the more regular surface of the Beardmore
Glacier hundreds of feet below us.
To reach the glacier we were faced with two alternatives: either to march
right round the icefalls, as we had done coming south, and thus waste
three whole days, or to take our lives in our hands and attempt to get
the sledge slap over the falls. This would mean facing tremendous drops,
which might end in a catastrophe. The discussion was very short-lived,
and with rather a sinking feeling the descent of the great ice falls was
commenced. We packed our ski on the sledge, attached spiked crampons to
our finnesko, and guided the sledge through the maze of hummocks and
The travelling surface was wind-swept and consequently too easy, for the
sledge would charge down a slippery slope of blue ice and capsize time
after time. In places the way became so steep that our united efforts
were needed to avoid the yawning chasms which beset our path. We were
compelled to remain attached to the sledge by our harness, for otherwise
there was always the danger of our slipping into one of the very
crevasses that we were keeping the sledge clear of, and in this manner,
with the jumping and jolting of that awful descent, frequent cases of
over-running occurred, the sledge fouling our traces and whisking us off
our feet. We encountered fall after fall, bruises, cuts, and abrasions
were sustained, but we vied with one another in bringing all our grit and
patience to bear; scarcely a complaint was heard, although one or other
of us would be driven almost sick with pain as the sledge cannoned into
this or that man's heel with a thud that made the victim clench his teeth
to avoid crying out.
The whole forenoon we worked down towards the more even surface of the
great glacier itself, but the actual descent of the steep part of the
Shackleton Icefalls was accomplished in half an hour. We came down many
hundred feet in that time.
None of us can ever forget that exciting descent. The speed of the sledge
at one point must have been 60 miles an hour. We glissaded down a steep
blue ice slope; to brake was impossible, for the sledge had taken charge.
One or other of us may have attempted to check the sledge with his foot,
but to stop it in any way would have meant a broken leg. We held on for
our lives, lying face downwards on the sledge. Suddenly it seemed to
spring into the air, we had left the ice and shot over one yawning
crevasse before we had known of its existence almost--I do not imagine we
were more than a second in the air, but in that brief space of time I
looked at Crean, who raised his eyebrows as if to say, "What next!" Then
we crashed on to the ice ridge beyond this crevasse, the sledge capsized
and rolled over and over, dragging us three with it until it came to a
How we ever escaped entirely uninjured is beyond me to explain. When we
had recovered our breath we examined ourselves and our sledge. One of my
ski-sticks had caught on a piece of ice during our headlong flight and
torn itself from the sledge. It rolled into the great blue-black chasm
over which we had come, and its fate made me feel quite cold when I
thought of what might have happened to us. When my heart had stopped
beating so rapidly from fright, and I had recovered enough to look round,
I realised that we were practically back on the Beardmore again, and that
our bold escapade had saved us three days' solid foot slogging and that
amount of food. So we pitched our little tent, had a good filling meal,
and then, delighted with our progress, we marched on until 8 p.m. That
night in our sleeping-bags we felt like three bruised pears, but being in
pretty hard condition in those days, our bruises and slight cuts in no
way kept us from hours of perfect, contented slumber.
I see in my diary for January 13, 1912, I have noted that we came down
2000 feet, but I doubt if it really was as much--we then had no means of
January 14 found us up at 5.45 (really only 4.45, because in order not to
make my seamen companions anxious I handicapped my watch after first
day's homeward march, putting the hands on one hour each morning before
rising, and back when I got the chance, so that we marched from 10 to 12
hours a day). We hauled our sledge for six hours until we reached the
Upper Glacier Depot under Mount Darwin. Here we took 3 1/2 days' stores
as arranged, and after sorting up and repacking the depot had lunch and
away down the Glacier, camping at 7.30 p.m. off Buckley Island, fairly
close to the land. Temperature rose above zero that night.
Next day we were away at 8 a.m. with our crampons on, we came down
several steep ice slopes, blue ice like glass, Lashly hauling ahead and
Crean and I holding on to the sledge. We bumped a lot, and occasionally
the sledge capsized. But we made good nearly 22 miles. We covered between
18 and 20 miles on January 16, and were in high glee at our progress. We
camped, however, in amongst pressure ridges and huge crevasses, 14 miles
from the Cloudmaker or mid-glacier depot. We hoped next day to reach this
depot. January 16 was a pleasant day, its ending peaceful, with a
sufficiency of excellent sledging rations and the promise of a similar
day to succeed it. On this day hopes had run high; our clothes were dry,
the weather mild and promising, besides which, we were camped in the full
satisfaction of having a good many miles in hand. We cheerfully discussed
our arrival at the next depot, after which we knew that no anxieties need
be felt, given even moderately good luck and weather, that did not
include too great a proportion of blizzard days. The musical roar of the
primus and the welcome smell of the cooking pemmican whetted our
appetites deliciously, and as the three of us sat around the cooker on
our rolled up fur bags, the contented expression on our dirty brown faces
made our bearded ugliness almost handsome. We built wonderful castles in
the air as to what luxuries Lashly, who was a famous cook, should prepare
on our return to winter quarters. There we had still some of the New
Zealand beef and mutton stored in my glacier cave, and one thing I had
set my heart on was a steak and kidney pudding which my friend Lashly
swore to make me.
After the meal we unrolled our sleeping-bags and luxuriantly got into
them, for the recent fine weather had given us a chance to dry thoroughly
the fur and get the bags clear of that uncomfortable clamminess due to
the moisture from our bodies freezing until the sleeping-bags afforded
but little comfort. The weather looked glorious, there was not a cloud in
the sky, and towards 10 o'clock the sun was still visible to the S.S.W.
We could see it through the thin, green canvas tent wall as we turned in,
still in broad daylight, and the warmth derived from it made sleep come
to us quite easily.
I woke at five the next morning, and, rousing my companions, we were up
and about in a minute. The primus stove and cooking apparatus were
brought into the tent once more; our sleeping foot-gear was changed for
our marching finneskoe and good steel-spiked crampons fixed to the soft
fur boots to give us grip in places where the ice was blue and slippery.
By 6 a.m. the little green tent was struck, the sledge securely packed,
and the three of us commenced a day's march, the details of which,
although it occurred over nine years ago, are so fresh in my memory that
I have not even to refer to my sledging diary.
We commenced the day unluckily, for a low Stratus cloud had spread like a
tablecloth over the Beardmore and filled up the glacier with mist. This
added tremendously to our difficulties in steering, for we had no
landmarks by which to set our course, although I knew the approximate
direction of descent and could make this by means of a somewhat
inadequate compass. The refinements in steering were not sufficient to
keep us on the good blue ice surface down which we could have threaded
our way had we commanded a full view of the glacier. Our route led us
over rougher ice than we should normally have chosen, and the outlook was
distinctly displeasing. The air was thick with countless myriads of tiny
floating ice crystals, and the great hummocks of ice stood weirdly shapen
as they loomed through the frozen mist. I appreciated that we were
getting into trouble, but hoped that the fog would disperse as the sun
increased its altitude. We fell about a good deal, and to my
consternation the surface became worse and worse. We were, however,
covering distance in an approximately northward direction, and our team
achieved with stubborn purpose what would have appeared impossible to us
when we first visited this great, white, silent continent.
It was no good going back, and we could not tell whether the good track
was to the right or the left of our line of advance. As new and more
troublesome obstacles presented themselves, the more valiantly did my
companions set themselves to win through. Crean and Lashly had the hearts
of lions. The uncertain light of the mist worried us all three, and we
were forced to take off our goggles to see to advance at all.
We continued until midday, when to my great relief the mist showed signs
of dispersing, and the sun, a sickly yellow orb, eventually showed
through. It was surrounded by a halo which was reflected in rainbow
colouring in the minute floating ice crystals. I looked round for a spot
suitable for camping, for we were pretty well exhausted, and it was worth
while waiting for the mist to disperse. No time would be wasted since the
halt would do for our lunch. With the greatest difficulty we found
amongst the hummocky ice a place to set up our tent. A space was found
somehow, and rather gloomily the three of us made a cooker full of tea.
We munched our biscuit in silence, for we were too tired to talk. From
time to time I went outside the tent, and certainly the atmosphere was
clearer. Odd shapes to the east and west showed themselves to be the
fringing mountains which so few eyes had ever rested on. Gradually they
took form and I was able more or less to identify our whereabouts. We
finished our lunch, Crean had a smoke, and then we got under way.
A little discussion, a lot of support, and a wealth of whole-hearted
good-fellowship from my companions gave me the encouragement which made
leading these two men so easy.
Warmed by the tea, cheered by the meal, and rested by the halt, we pushed
on once more, although to go forward was uncertain and to work back
impossible since we were too exhausted to do such pulling upward as would
be necessary to reach a place from whence a new start could be made, even
if we succeeded in re-discovering our night camp of yesterday.
For hours we fought on, sometimes overcoming crevasses by bridging them
with the sledge where its length enabled this to be done. The summer sun
had cleared the snow from this part of the glacier, laying bare the great
blue, black cracks, and they were horrible to behold. If the breadth of a
crevasse was too large to be crossed we worked along the bank until an
ice bridge presented itself along which we could go. As the sun's rays
grew more powerful, the visibility became perfect, and I must confess we
were disappointed to see before us the most disheartening wilderness of
pressure ridges and disturbances. We were in the heart of the Great Ice
Fall which is to be found half-way down the Beardmore Glacier. We
struggled along, for there is no other expression which aptly describes
our case. Had we not been in superb physical training and in really hard
condition all three of us must have collapsed. We literally carried the
sledge, which weighed nearly four hundred pounds.
When the afternoon march had already extended for hours we found
ourselves travelling mile after mile across the line of our intended
route to circumvent the crevasses. They seemed to grow bigger and bigger.
At about 8 p.m. we were travelling on a ridge between two stupendous open
gulfs, and we found a connecting bridge which stretched obliquely across.
I saw that it was necessary to move round or across a number of these
wide open chasms to reach the undulations which we knew from our ice
experience must terminate this broken up part of the glacier. In vain I
told myself that these undulations could not be so far away.
To cross by the connecting bridge which I have just spoken about was, to
say the least of it, a precarious proceeding. But it would save us a mile
or two, and in our tired state this was worth considering. After a
minutes rest we placed the sledge on this ice bridge, and, as Crean
described it afterwards, "We went along the crossbar to the H of Hell."
It was not all misnamed either, for Lashly, who went ahead, dared not
walk upright. He actually sat astride the bridge and was paid out at the
end of our Alpine rope. He shuffled his way across, fearful to look down
into the inky blue chasm below, but he fixed his eyes on the opposite
wall of ice and hoped the rope would be long enough to allow him to reach
it and climb up, for he never would have dared to come back. The cord
_was_ sufficient in length, and he contrived finally to make his way on
to the top of the ridge before him. He then turned round and looked
scaredly at Crean and myself. I think all of us felt the tension of the
moment, but we wasted no time in commencing the passage. The method of
procedure was this. The sledge rested on the narrow bridge which was
indeed so shaped that the crest only admitted of the runners resting one
on each side of it; the slope away was like an inverted "V" and while
Lashly sat gingerly on the opposite ridge, hauling carefully but not too
strongly on the rope, Crean and I, facing one another, held on to the
sledge sides, balancing the whole concern. It was one of the most
exciting moments of our lives. We launched the sled across foot by foot
as I shouted "One, Two, Three--Heave." Each time the signal was obeyed we
got nearer to the opposite ice slope. The balance was preserved, of
course, by Crean and myself, and we had to exercise a most careful
judgment. Neither of us spoke, except for the launching signal, but each
looked steadfastly into the other's eyes--nor did we two look down. A
false movement might have precipitated the whole gang and the sledge
itself into the blue-black space of awful depth beneath. The danger was
very real, but this crossing was necessary to our final safety. As in
other cases of peril, the tense quiet of the moment left its mark on the
memories of our party for ever. Little absurd details attracted all our
attention, for instance, I noticed the ruts in the cheeks of my grimy
_vis-a-vis_, for Crean had recently clipped his beard and whiskers. My
gaze was also riveted on a cut, or rather open crack caused in one of his
lips by the combined sun and wind. Thousands of little fleeting thoughts
chased one another through our brains, as we afterwards found by
comparison, and finally we were so close to Lashly that he could touch
the sledge. He reached down, for the bridge was depressed somewhat where
it met the slope on which he sat.
He held on tight, and somehow Crean and I wriggled off the bridge,
sticking our crampons firmly into the ice and crawling up to where Lashly
was. We all three held on to the Alpine line, and in some extraordinary
fashion got to the top of the ridge, where we anchored ourselves and
prepared to haul up the sledge. As I said before, it weighed about 400
lb., and to three exhausted men the strain which came upon us when we
hauled the sledge off the bridge tested us to the limit of our strength.
The wretched thing slipped sideways and capsized on the slope, nearly
dragging us down into that icy chasm, but our combined efforts saved us,
and once again the perils of the moment were forgotten as we got into our
sledge harness and started to make the best of our way to the depot.
By now we were exhausted, rudely shaken, and our eyes were smarting with
the glare and the glint of the sun's reflections from that awful maze of
ice falls. I felt my heart would burst from the sustained effort of
launching that sledge, which now seemed to weigh a ton. There seemed no
way out of this confused mass of pressure ridges and, crevasses. We were
"all out," and come what may I had to change our tactics, accordingly I
ordered a halt. No room could be found to pitch our tent and I could not
see any possibility of saving my party. We could stagger on no farther
with the dreadfully heavy sledge. The prospect was hopeless and our food
was nearly gone. Some rest must be obtained to give us strength for this
absolute battle for life. The great strain of the day's efforts had
thoroughly exhausted us, and it took me back to the last day of the
December blizzard which caused the eventual loss of the Polar Party and
the ruin of Captain Scott's so excellently laid plans. I remembered the
poor ponies after their fourteen hours' march, their flanks heaving,
their black eyes dull, shrivelled and wasted. The poor beasts had stood,
with their legs stuck out in strange attitudes, mere wrecks of the
beautiful little animals that we took away from New Zealand, and I could
not help likening our condition to theirs on that painful day. The three
of us sat on the sledge--hollow-eyed and gaunt looking. We were done, our
throats were dry, and we could scarcely speak. There was no wind, the
atmosphere was perfectly still, and the sun slowly crept towards the
southern meridian, clear cut in the steel blue sky. It gave us all the
sympathy it could, for it shed warm rays upon us as it silently moved on
its way like a great eye from Heaven, looking but unable to help. We
should have gone mad with another day like this, and there were times
when we came perilously close to being insane. Something had to be done.
I got up from the sledge, cast my harness adrift, and said, "I am going
to look for a way out; we can't go on." My companions at first persuaded
me not to go, but I pointed out that we could not continue in our
exhausted condition. If only we could find a camping place, and we could
rest, perhaps we should be able to make a final effort to get clear.
I moved along a series of ice bridges, and the excitement gave me
strength once more. I was surprised at myself for not being more giddy
when I walked along the narrow ice spines, but the crampons attached to
my finneskoe were like cat's claws, and without the weight of the sledge
I seemed to develop a panther-like tenacity, for I negotiated the
dangerous parts with the utmost ease. After some twenty minutes hunting
round I came to a great ice hollow.
Down into it I went and up the other side. This hollow was free from
crevasses, and when I got to the top of the ice mound opposite I saw yet
another hollow. Turning round I gazed back towards where I had left our
sledge. Two tiny, disconsolate figures were silhouetted against the
sunlight--my two companions on our great homeward march, one sitting and
one standing, probably looking for my reappearance as I vanished and was
sighted again from time to time. I felt a tremendous love for those two
men that day. They had trusted me so implicitly and believed in my
ability to win through. I turned northward again, stepped down into the
next hollow and stopped. I was in an enormous depression but not a
crevasse to be seen, for the sides of the depression met quite firmly at
the bottom in smooth, blue, solid ice.
In a flash I called to mind the view of the Ice Fall from the glacier on
our outward journey with Captain Scott, I remembered the huge frozen
waves, and hoped with all my optimistic nature that this might be the end
of the great disturbance. I stood still and surveyed the wonderful valley
of ice, and then fell on my knees and prayed to God that a way out would
be shown me.
Then I sprang to my feet, and hurried on boldly. Clambering up the
opposite slope of ice, I found a smooth, round crest over which I ran
into a similar valley beyond. Frozen waves here followed in succession,
and hollow followed hollow, each less in magnitude than its forerunner.
Suddenly I saw before me the smooth, shining bed of the glacier itself,
and away to the north-west was the curious reddish rock under which the
Mid Glacier Depot had been placed. My feelings hardly bear setting down.
I was overcome with emotion, but my prayer was answered and we were
I had considerable difficulty in working back to the party amongst the
labyrinth of ice bridges, but I fortunately found a patch of hard snow
whereon my crampons had made their mark. From here I easily traced my
footmarks back, and was soon in company with my friends. They were truly
relieved at my news. On consulting my watch I found that I had been away
one hour. It took us actually three times as long to work our sledge out
into the smooth ice of the glacier, but this reached, we camped and made
some tea before marching on to the depot, which lay but a few miles from
We ate the last of our biscuits at this camp and finished everything but
tea and sugar, then, new men, we struck our little camp, harnessed up and
swept down over the smooth ice with scarcely an effort needed to move the
sledge along. When we reached the depot we had another meal and slept
through the night and well on into the next day.
Consulting my old Antarctic diary I see that the last sentence written on
the 17th January says, "I had to keep my goggles off all day as it was a
matter of life or death with us, and snow blindness must be risked after
..." (a gap follows here until 29th January). The next day I had an awful
attack of snow blindness, but the way down the glacier was so easy that
it did not matter. I forgot whether Lashly or Crean led then, but I
marched alongside, keeping in touch with the trace by hitching the
lanyard of my sundial on to it and holding this in my hand. I usually
carried the sundial slung round my neck, so that it was easy to pick it
up and consult it. That day I was in awful pain, and although we had some
dope for putting on our eyes when so smitten, I found that the greatest
relief of all was obtained by bandaging my eyes with a poultice made of
tea leaves after use--quaint places, quaint practices but the tip is
worth considering for future generations of explorers and alpine
Our homeward march continued for day after day with no very exciting
incidents. We met no more crevasses that were more than a foot or so
wide, and we worked our way down on to the Great Ice Barrier with
comparatively easy marches, although the distances we covered were
surprising to us all--seventeen miles a day we averaged.
On the 30th January Lashly and I had been fourteen weeks out, and we had
exhausted practically every topic of conversation beyond food, distances
made good, temperatures, and the weather. Crean, as already set down, had
started with the Main Southern Party a week after Lashly and I had first
set out as the pioneers with those wretched failures, the motor sledges.
By this time I had made the unpleasant discovery that I was suffering
from scurvy. It came on with a stiffening of the knee joints, then I
could not straighten my legs, and finally they were horrible to behold,
swollen, bruised, and green. As day followed day my condition became
worse: my gums were ulcerated and my teeth loose. Then finally I got
haemorrhage. Crean and Lashly were dreadfully concerned on my behalf, and
how they nursed me and helped me along no words of mine can properly
describe. What men they were. Those awful days--I trudged on with them
for hundreds of miles, and each step hurt me more. I had done too much on
the outward journey, for what with building all the depot cairns ahead of
the pony party, and what with the effects of the spring sledge journey,
too much had been asked of me. I had never been out of harness from the
day I left Hut Point, for even with the motor sledges we practically
pulled them along. Crean had had an easier time, for he had led a pony up
to the foot of the Beardmore Glacier, and Lashly had not done the spring
sledging journey, which took a certain amount out of me with its
temperatures falling to 73 degrees below zero. The disappointment of not
being included in the Polar Party had not helped me much, and I must
admit that my prospects of winning through became duller day by day. I
suffered absolute agonies in forcing my way along, and eventually I could
only push myself by means of a ski-stick, for I could not step out
properly. I somehow waddled on ski until one day I fainted when striving
to start a march. Crean and Lashly picked me up, and Crean thought I was
dead. His hot tears fell on my face, and as I came to I gave a weak kind
They rigged the camp up once more and put me in my bag, and then those
two gallant fellows held a short council of war. I endeavoured to get
them to leave me when they came in with their suggestions, but it was
useless to argue with them, and I now felt that I had shot my bolt. I
vainly tried to persuade them to leave me in my sleeping-bag with what
food they could spare, but they put me on the sledge, bag and all, and
strapped me as comfortably as they could with their own sleeping-bags
spread under me to make for greater ease.
How weary their marches must have been--ten miles of foot slogging each
day. I could see them from the sledge by raising my head--how slowly
their legs seemed to move--wearily but nobly they fought on until one day
a blizzard came and completely spoilt the surface. The two men had been
marching nearly 1500 miles, their strength was spent, and great though
their hearts were, they had now to give up. In vain they tried to move
the sledge with my wasted weight upon it--it was hopeless.
Very seriously and sadly they re-erected our tent and put me once again
inside. I thought I was being put into my grave. Outside I heard them
talking, low notes of sadness, but with a certain thread of determination
running through what they said. They were discussing which should go and
which should stay. Crean had done, if anything, the lighter share of the
work, as already explained, and he therefore set out to march thirty-five
miles with no food but a few biscuits and a little stick of chocolate.
He hoped to find relief at Hut Point. Failing this, he would go on if
possible to Cape Evans.
Crean came in to say good-bye to me. I thanked him for what he was doing
in a weak, broken sort of way, and Lashly held open the little round tent
door to let me see the last of him. He strode out nobly and finely--I
wondered if I should ever see him, again. Then Lashly came in to me, shut
the tent door, and made me a little porridge out of some oatmeal we got
from the last depot we had passed.
After I had eaten it he made me comfortable by laying me on Crean's
sleeping-bag, which made my own seem softer, for I was very, very sore
after being dragged a hundred miles on a jolting, jumping sledge. Then I
slept and awoke to find Lashly's kind face looking down at me. There were
very few wounded men in the Great War nursed as I was by him.
A couple of days passed, and every now and then Lashly would open up the
tent door, go out and search the horizon for some possible sign of
relief. The end had nearly come, and I was past caring; we had no food,
except a few paraffin saturated biscuits, and Lashly in his weakened
state without food could never have marched in. He took it all very
quietly--a noble, steel true man--but relief did come at the end of that
day when everything looked its blackest.
We heard the baying of the dogs, first once, then again. Lashly, who was
lying down by my side quietly talking, sprang to his feet, looked out,
They galloped right up to the tent door, and the leader, a beautiful gray
dog named Krisravitsa, seemed to understand the situation, for he came
right into the tent and licked my hands and face. I put my poor weak
hands up and gripped his furry ears. Perhaps to hide my feelings I kissed
his old hairy, Siberian face with the kiss that was meant for Lashly. We
were both dreadfully affected at our rescue.
Atkinson and the Russian dog-boy, Dimitri, had come out hot-foot to save
us, and of all men in the Expedition none could have been better chosen
than "Little Aitch," our clever naval doctor. After resting his dogs and
feeding me with carefully prepared foodstuffs, he got me on one sledge
and Lashly on the other, the dogs were given their head, and in little
more than three hours we covered the thirty-five miles into Hut Point,
where I was glad to see Crean's face once more and to hear first hand
about his march. It had taken him eighteen hours' plodding through those
awful snows from our camp to Hut Point, where fortunately he met Atkinson
and Dimitri and told them of my condition.
After the Expedition was over the King gave Lashly and Crean the Albert
Medal for their bravery in helping me win through.
It is little enough tribute that I have dedicated this book to these two
THE POLE ATTAINED--SCOTT'S LAST MARCHES
The details of Scott's final march to the Pole, and the heartrending
account of his homeward journey, of Evans's sad death, of Oates's noble
sacrifice, and of the martyr like end of Wilson, Bowers, and Scott
himself have been published throughout the length and breadth of the
civilised world. In "Scott's Last Expedition"--Vol. I. the great
explorer's journals are practically reproduced in their entirety. Mr.
Leonard Huxley, who arranged them in 1913, had had to do with Scott's
first work, "The Voyage of the 'Discovery'," and, as Mr. Huxley has said,
these two works needed but little editing. Scott's last fine book was
written as he went along, and those of us who have survived the
Expedition and the Great War, and we are few, are more than proud to
count ourselves among the company he chose.
A synopsis of his march from 87 degrees 35 minutes to the South Pole, and
a recapitulation of the events which marked the homeward march must
certainly find their way into this book, which is after all only the husk
of the real story.
However much the story is retold--and it has been retold by members of
the Expedition as well as by others--the re-telling will never approach
the story as told by Scott himself: for the kernel one must turn to
Volume I, of "Scott's Last Expedition": However, perhaps I can give
something of interest; here is what little Bowers says in extracts from
his diary, given me by his mother:
"_January_ 4.--Packed up sledge with four weeks and three days' food
for five men, five sleeping-bags, etc. I had my farewell breakfast
with Teddy Evans, Crean and Lashly. Teddy was frightfully cut up at
not going to the Pole, he had set his heart on it so.
"I am afraid it was a very great disappointment to him, and I felt
very sorry about it. Poor Teddy, I am sure it was for his wife's sake
he wanted to go. He gave me a little silk flag she had given him to
fly on the Pole. After so little sleep the previous night I rather
dreaded the march.
"We gave our various notes, messages, and letters to the returning
party and started off. They accompanied us for about a mile before
turning, to see that all was going on well.
"Our party was on ski with the exception of myself. I first made fast
to the central span, but afterwards connected up to the bow of the
sledge, pulling in the centre between the inner ends of Captain
Scott's and Dr. Wilson's traces.
"This was found to be the best place, as I had to go my own step.
Teddy and party gave us three cheers and Crean was half in tears. They
had a featherweight sledge to go back with, of course, and ought to
run down their distance easily.
"We found we could manage our load easily, and did 6.3 miles before
lunch, completing 12.5 by 7.15 p.m. Our marching hours are nine per
day. It is a long slog with a well-loaded sledge, and more tiring for
me than the others as I have no ski. However, as long as I can do my
share all day and keep fit, it does not matter much one way or the
"We had our first north wind on the Plateau to-day, and a deposit of
snow crystals made the surface like sand latterly on the march. The
sledge dragged like lead. In the evening it fell calm, and although
the temperature was 16 degrees it was positively pleasant to stand
about outside the tent and bask in the sun's rays. It was our first
calm since we reached the summit too. Our socks and other damp
articles which we hang out to dry at night became immediately covered
with long feathery crystals exactly like plumes.
"Socks, mitts, and finneskoe dry splendidly up here during the night.
We have little trouble with them compared with spring and winter
journeys. I generally spread my bag out in the sun during the 1 1/2
hours of lunch time, which gives the reindeer hair a chance to get rid
of the damage done by the deposit of breath and any perspiration
during the night...."
He seemed to have made no entry for some days after this, but he is
interesting to quote later.
The Polar Party covered the 145 geographical miles that remained in a
fortnight; on the 7th January they reached apparently the summit of the
Plateau, 10,570 ft. in Latitude 88 degrees 18 minutes 70 seconds S.
Longitude 157 degrees 21 minutes E., but their marches fell short of
expectations due to the bad surfaces met with.
Scott kept copious notes in his diary of everything that mattered. He was
delighted with his final selection, and as usual pithy and to the point
when describing. Here, for example, is something of what he wrote of his
(From Scott's Last Expedition, Vol. 1)
"WILSON.--Quick, careful and dexterous, ever thinking of some fresh
expedient to help the camp life; tough as steel on the traces, never
wavering from start to finish.
"PETTY OFFICER EVANS.--A giant worker, with a really remarkable
headpiece--he is responsible for every sledge, every sledge-fitting,
tents, sleeping-bags, harness, and when one cannot recall a single
expression of dissatisfaction with any one of these items, it shows
what an invaluable assistant he has been....
"BOWERS.--Little Bowers remains a marvel--he is thoroughly enjoying
himself. I leave all the provision arrangements in his hands, and at
all times he knows exactly how we stand ... Nothing comes amiss to
him, and no work is too hard....
"OATES.--Each is invaluable. Oates had his invaluable period with the
ponies: now he is a foot slogger and goes hard the whole time, does
his share of camp work and stands the hardships as well as any of us.
I would not like to be without him either. So our five people are
perhaps as happily selected as it is possible to imagine."
Certainly no living man could have taken Scott's place effectively as
leader of our Expedition--there was none other like him. He was the
Heart, Brain, and Master.
On January 11 just the slightest descent had been made, the height up
being now 10,540 ft., but it will be noticed that they were then getting
temperatures as low as 26 degrees below zero: my party on that date got
10 degrees higher thermometer readings. Surface troubles continued to
waylay them, and their distances, even with five men, were disappointing,
due undoubtedly to this.
On 13th both Bowers and Scott write of a surface like sand, and of
tugging and straining when they ought to be moving easily. On 14th some
members began to feel the cold unmistakably, and on the following day the
whole party were quite done on camping.
The saddest note on the outward march is struck on January 16 when Bowers
sighted a cairn of snow and a black speck, which turned out to be a black
flag tied to a sledge runner, near the remains of a camp--this after such
a hopeful day on the 15th, when a depot of nine days food was made only
27 miles from the Pole--and Scott wrote in his diary:
"... It ought to be a certain thing now, and the only appalling
possibility the sight of the Norwegian Flag forestalling ours...."
Still, there it was, dog tracks, many of them, were picked up and
followed to the Polar Area. Scott, Wilson, Oates, Bowers, and Seaman
Evans reached the South Pole on 17th January, 1912, a horrible day,
temperature 22 degrees below zero. The party fixed the exact spot by
means of one of our little four-inch theodolites, and the result of their
careful observations located the Pole at a point which only differed from
Amundsen's "fix" by half a mile, as shown by his flag.
This difference actually meant that the British and Norwegian observers
differed by _one scale division on the theodolite_, which was graduated
to half a minute of arc.
Experts in navigation and surveying will always look on this splendidly
accurate determination as a fine piece of work by our own people as well
as by the Norwegian Expedition.
Lady Scott has remarked on the magnificent spirit shown by her husband
and his four specially-selected tent-mates when they knew that Queen
Alexandra's little silk Union Jack had been anticipated by the flag of
another nation. Scott and his companions had done their best, and never
from one of them came an uncharitable remark.
In our Expedition Committee Minute Book it is recorded that the following
were found at the Pole:
A letter from Captain Amundsen to Captain Scott:
15th _December_, 1911.
"DEAR CAPTAIN SCOTT,--As you probably are the first to reach this area
after us, I will ask you kindly to forward this letter to King Haakon
VII. If you can use any of the articles left in the tent please do
not hesitate to do so. The sledge left outside may be of use to you.
With kind regards I wish you a safe return.
Also another note:
"The Norwegian Home, Poleheim, is situated in 89 degrees 58 minutes S.
Lat. S.E. by E. compass 8 miles.
(Signed) ROALD AMUNDSEN. "15th _December_, 1911."
The Norwegian Explorers' names recorded at Poleheim were: Roald Amundsen,
Olaf Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Oskar Wisting, Sverre Hassel.
Scott left a note in the Norwegian tent with the names of himself and his
companions, and in his diary he agreed that the Norwegian explorers had
made thoroughly sure of their work and fully carried out their programme.
Scott considered the Pole to be 9500 feet above the Barrier--1000 feet
lower than the Plateau altitude in 88 degrees.
Bowers took the sights to fix the South Pole.
On the 19th January the northward march was commenced: the party had
before them then a distance of over 900 miles (statute). Bowers writes on
this date quite nonchalantly:
" ... A splendid clear morning, with fine S.W'ly wind blowing--during
breakfast time I sewed a flap attachment on to my green hat so as to
prevent the wind from blowing down my neck on the march. We got up
the mast and sail on the sledge and headed North, picking up
Amundsen's cairn and our outgoing tracks shortly afterwards. Along
this we travelled until we struck the other cairn and finally the
Black Flag where we had made our sixth (?) outward camp. We then with
much relief left all traces of the Norwegian behind, and I headed on
my own track till lunch camp, when we had come 8.1 miles. In the
afternoon we passed No. 2 Cairn of the British route, and fairly
slithered along with a fresh breeze. It was heavy travelling for me,
not being on ski, but one does not mind being tired if a good march is
made. We did 16 altogether for the day, and so should pick up our last
depot to-morrow afternoon. The weather became fairly thick soon after
noon, and at the end of the afternoon there was considerable drift
with a mist caused by ice crystals and parhelion.
"_January_ 20.--Good sailing breeze again this morning; it is a great
pleasure to have one's back to the wind instead of having to face it.
It came on thicker later, but we sighted the last depot soon after 1
p.m. and reached it at 1-15 p.m. The red flag on the bamboo pole was
blowing out merrily to welcome us back from the Pole, with its supply
of the necessaries of life below. We are absolutely dependent on our
depots to get off the Plateau alive, and so welcome the lovely little
cairns gladly. At this one, called the 'Last Depot,' we picked up four
days' food, a can of oil, some methylated spirit (for lighting
purposes), and some personal gear we had left there. The bamboo was
bent on to the floor-cloth as a yard for our sail instead of a broken
sledge runner of Amundsen's, which we had found at the Pole and made a
temporary yard of. As we had marched extra long in the forenoon in
order to reach the depot, our afternoon march was shorter than usual.
The wind increased to a moderate gale, with heavy gusts and
considerable drift. We would have had a bad time had we been facing
it. After an hour I had to shift my harness aft so as to control the
motions of the sledge.
"Unfortunately the surface got very sandy latterly, but we finished up
with 16.1 miles to our credit and camped in a stiff breeze, which
rendered itself into a blizzard a few hours later. I was glad we had
our depot safe.
"_January_ 21.-Wind increased to force 8 during night, with heavy
drift; in the morning it was blizzing like blazes, and marching was
out of the question. The wind would have been of great assistance to
us, but the drift was so thick that steering a course would have been
next to impossible, so we decided to await developments and get under
way as soon as it showed any signs of clearing. Fortunately it was
short lived, and instead of lasting the regulation two days it went
off in the afternoon, and 2.45 found us off with our sail full. It was
good running on ski, but soft plodding for me on foot. I shall be
jolly glad to pick up my dear old ski. They are nearly 200 miles away
yet, however. The breeze fell altogether latterly, and I shifted up
into my old place, a middle number of the five. Our distance completed
was 5.52 miles when camp was made again. Our old cairns are of great
assistance, also the tracks, which are obliterated in places by heavy
drift and hard sastrugi, but can be followed easily.
"_January_ 22.--We came across Evans's sheep-skin boots this evening.
They were almost covered after their long spell since they fell off
the sledge. The breeze was in from the S.S.W., but got bright and
light. At lunch camp we had completed 8.2 miles. In the afternoon the
breeze fell altogether and the surface acted on by the sun became
perfect sand-dust. The light sledge pulled by five men came along like
a drag without a particle of slide or go in it. We were all glad to
camp soon after 7 p.m. I think we were all pretty tired out. We did
altogether 19.5 miles for the day. We are now only 30 miles from the
1 1/2 degree depot and should reach it in two marches with any luck.
"_January_ 23.--Started off with a bit of a breeze which helped us a
little. After the first two hours it increased to force 4 S.S.W., and
filling the sail we sped along merrily, doing 8 3/4 miles before
lunch. In the afternoon it was even stronger. I had to go back in the
sledge and act as guide and brakesman. We had to lower the sail a bit,
but even then she ran like a bird. We are picking up our old cairns
famously. Evans got his nose frost-bitten, not an unusual thing with
him, and as we were all getting pretty cold latterly, we stopped at a
quarter to seven, having done 15 1/2 miles. We camped with
considerable difficulty owing to the force of the wind.
"_January_ 24.--Evans got his fingers all blistered with frostbites,
otherwise we are all well, but thinning, and in spite of our good
rations getting hungrier daily.
"I sometimes spend much thought on the march with plans for making a
pig of myself on the first opportunity. As this will be after a
farther walk of 700 miles they will be a bit premature. It was blowing
a gale when we started, and it increased in force. Finally, with the
sail half down, one man detached tracking ahead, and Titus and I
breaking back, we could not always keep the sledge from over-running.
The blizzard got worse and worse, till having done only 7 miles we had
to camp soon after 12 o'clock. We had a most difficult job camping,
and it has been blowing like blazes all the afternoon. I think it is
moderating now--9 p.m.
"We are only 7 miles from our depot and the delay is exasperating.
"_January_ 25.--It was no use turning out at our usual time (5.45
a.m.) as the blizzard was as furious as ever.
"We therefore decided on a late breakfast and no lunch unless able to
march. We have only three days' food with us and shall be in Queer
Street if we miss the depot.
"Our bags are getting steadily wetter, so are our clothes.
"It shows a tendency to clear off now (breakfast time), so, D.V., we
may march after all. I am in tribulation as regards meals now, as we
have run out of salt, one of my favourite commodities. It was owing to
Atkinson's party taking back an extra tin by mistake from the Upper
"Fortunately we have some depoted there, so I will only have to endure
another two weeks without it.
"10 p.m.--We have got in a march after all, thank the Lord.
"Assisted by the wind we made an excellent run down to our 1 1/2
Depot, where the big red flag was blowing out of driving drift. Here
we picked up 14 cans of oil, and one week's food for five men,
together with some personal gear depoted.
"We left the bamboo and the flag on the cairn. I was much relieved to
pick up this depot; now we have only one other source of anxiety in
the endless snow summit, viz., the third depot in Latitude 86 degrees
56 minutes S. In the afternoon we did 5.2 miles. It was a miserable
march, blizzard all the time and our sledge either sticking on
sastrugi or overrunning the traces. We had to lower the sail half
down, and Titus and I hung on to her--it was most strenuous work as
well as much colder than pulling ahead. Most of the time we had to
brake back with all our strength to keep the sledge from overrunning.
Bill got a bad go of sun-glare from following the track without
"_January_ 26.--This day last year we started the depot journey. I did
not think so short a time would turn me into an old hand at Polar
travelling, neither did I imagine all the time that I would be
returning from the Pole.
"_January_ 29.--Our record march to-day. With a good breeze and
improving surface we were soon in amongst the double tracks where the
supporting party left us. Then we picked up the memorable camp where
I transferred to the advance party. How glad I was to change over. The
camp was much drifted up, and immense sastrugi . . . etc."
Day's marches, temperatures, and so on, then his diary commences missing
days out and only contains two line entries in short, sharp notes such
"_January_ 31.--Picked up depot 11.20 a.m. Picked up my ski 6.15 p.m.
No wind latterly--heavy surface. 13 1/2--Bill's leg--Evans's
fingers--extra biscuits, etc."; and
"_February_ 11.--Very heavy surface--ice crystals--movement of upper
currents--Evans cook--finer weather--lower temperature--sastrugi.
It was probably the beginning of the end.
February brought little to the party but bad luck and reverses. Wilson
had strained a tendon in his leg. Evans's fingers were in a bad state
through frostbite, and on the first of the month Scott himself had fallen
and shaken himself badly. Temperatures low, too low for any good surface.
February 4 found the party amongst crevasses, both Scott and Evans
falling into them. Notwithstanding all their troubles they made a fine
pace over the ice-capped plateau and down the Beardmore. Evans's fall on
February 4 crocked him up a good deal, and he suffered from facial
frostbites. His condition all the time now was causing the gravest
anxiety. The summit journey ended on February 7. On the 8th valuable
geological specimens were collected and brought along, and then the
descent of the Great Glacier commenced. The Beardmore temperatures to
begin with were rather high, and Scott seems to have considered this a
disadvantage, for he says it made the party feel slack. Evans was rested
half-way down the Beardmore, Oates looking after him, while the other
made a halt for geological investigation by the Cloudmaker depot.
But poor Evans had sustained a severe concussion through falling and
hitting his head on the 4th, and the party on his account was so delayed
that the surplus foodstuffs rapidly diminished, and the outlook became
serious. Bad weather was again encountered, and on February 17, near the
foot of the Glacier, Seaman Evans died. Wilson expressed the opinion that
Evans must have injured his brain by the fall. It was a great surprise to
all of us to hear of Evans failing so early, as he was known to be a man
of enormous strength, and a tried sledger. He was also a veteran in
Antarctic experience, having made some wonderful journeys under Scott in
the "Discovery" days.
After reaching the Lower Glacier Depot on the 17th the bereaved little
band pushed Northward with fine perseverance, although they must have
known by their gradually shortening marches that little hope of reaching
their winter quarters remained. Their best march on the Barrier was only
12 miles, and in the later stages their marches dropped to 4. The depots
were, as stated, some 65 miles apart, but the temperatures fell as they
advanced, instead of rising, as expected, and we find them
recording -46.2 degrees one night. Surfaces were terrible--"like
pulling over desert sand, not the least glide in the world."
Poor Oates's feet and hands were badly frostbitten--he constantly
appealed to Wilson for advice. What should he do, what could he do? Poor,
gallant soldier, we thought such worlds of him. Wilson could only answer
"slog on, just slog on." On March 17, which was Oates's birthday, he
walked out to his death in a noble endeavour to save his three companions
beset with hardships, and as Captain Scott himself wrote, "It was the act
of a brave man and an English gentleman--we all hope to meet the end with
a similar spirit, and assuredly the end is not far."
Scott, Wilson, and Bowers fought on until March 21, only doing about 20
miles in the four days, and then they were forced to camp 11 miles south
of One Ton Depot. They were kept in camp by a blizzard which was too
violent to permit them to move, and on March 25 Captain Scott wrote his
great message to the public:
MESSAGE TO THE PUBLIC
The causes of the disaster are not due to faulty organisation, but to
misfortune in all risks which had to be undertaken.
1.--The loss of pony transport in March, 1911, obliged me to start later
than I had intended, and obliged the limits of stuff transported to be
2. The weather throughout the outward journey, and especially the long
gale in 83 degrees S., stopped us.
3. The soft snow in lower reaches of glacier again reduced pace.
We fought these untoward events with a will and conquered, but it cut
into our provision reserve.
Every detail of our food supplies, clothing, and depots made on the
interior ice sheet and over that long stretch of 700 miles to the Pole
and back worked out to perfection. The advance party would have returned
to the glacier in fine form and with surplus of food, but for the
astonishing failure of the man whom we had least expected to fail. Edgar
Evans was thought the strongest man of the party.
The Beardmore Glacier is not difficult in fine weather, but on our return
we did not get a single completely fine day; this with a sick companion
enormously increased our anxieties.
As I have said elsewhere we got into frightfully rough ice, and Edgar
Evans received a concussion of the brain--he died a natural death, but
left us a shaken party, with the season unduly advanced.
But all the facts above enumerated were as nothing to the surprise which
awaited us on the Barrier. I maintain that our arrangements for returning
were quite adequate, and that no one in the world would have expected the
temperatures and surfaces which we encountered at this time of the year.
On the summit in Latitude 85 degrees 86 degrees we had -20 degrees -30
degrees. On the Barrier in Latitude 82 degrees, 10,000 feet lower, we had
-30 degrees in the day, -47 degrees at night pretty regularly, with
continuous head wind during our day marches. It is clear that these
circumstances come on very suddenly, and our wreck is certainly due to
this sudden advent of severe weather, which does not seem to have any
satisfactory cause. I do not think human beings ever came through such a
month as we have come through, and we should have got through in spite of
the weather but for the sickening of a second companion, Captain Oates,
and a shortage of fuel in our depots, for which I cannot account, and
finally, but for the storm which has fallen on us within 11 miles of the
depot at which we hoped to secure our final supplies. Surely misfortune
could scarcely have exceeded this last blow. We arrived within 11 miles
of our old One Ton Camp with fuel for one last meal and food for two
days. For four days we have been unable to leave the tent--the gale
howling about us. We are weak, writing is difficult, but for my own sake
I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure
hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as
ever in the past. We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come
out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to
the will of Providence, determined still to do our best to the last. But
if we have been willing to give our lives to this enterprise, which is
for the honour of our country, I appeal to our countrymen to see that
those who depend on us are properly cared for.
Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood,
endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the
heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must
tell the tale, but surely, surely a great rich country like ours will see
that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for.
(Signed) R. SCOTT.
This chapter would be incomplete without Wilson's own beautiful lines
from the "South Polar Times";
THE BARRIER SILENCE
The Silence was deep with a breath like sleep
As our sledge runner slid on the snow,
And the fateful fall of our fur-clad feet
Struck mute like a silent blow.
On a questioning "hush," as the settling crust
Shrank shivering over the floe;
And the sledge in its track sent a whisper back
Which was lost in a white-fog bow.
And this was the thought that the Silence wrought
As it scorched and froze us through,
Though secrets hidden are all forbidden
Till God means man to know.
We might be the men God meant should know
The heart of the Barrier snow,
In the heat of the sun, and the glow
And the glare from the glistening floe,
As it scorched and froze us through and through
With the bite of the drifting snow.
THE SECOND WINTER--FINDING OF THE POLAR PARTY
The foregoing story of triumph and disaster going hand in hand to Scott
dwarfed the remaining chapters of the Expedition's history into
insignificance. I venture, however, to give a resume of what was
happening elsewhere in this region at the time.
The Norwegian explorers commenced their trip homeward to Framheim in the
Bay of Whales, a distance of 870 English miles, on December 17, 1911 and
made the amazing marching average of 22 1/2 miles a day for this
On January 25, 1912, at 4 a.m., Amundsen's men regained the shelter of
their winter quarters, when poor Scott was still only 30 miles from the
Pole on his return journey.
This undoubtedly establishes the superiority of dogs in great numbers for
Polar sledge travelling, for Scott delayed his start on account of the
inability of his ponies to face the severity of the Barrier weather
conditions before November 1. Peary in the North had already with dogs
achieved what Amundsen did in the South. Captain Amundsen has always
expressed his wonder at our performance--and in his modest way he told me
he himself could never have manhauled as Scott's men did.
Concerning the attempts to support the Southern party, Scott's
instructions were quite clear, and they were certainly obeyed. As a
matter of fact there was never any anxiety felt for the Southern party
until after March 10. They themselves never imagined they would reach Hut
Point before that time, and as the last supporting party had won through
short-handed, and after pulling in harness for 1500 miles, it was not
considered likely that the Southern party would fail--unless overtaken by
What actually happened was this. Stores were landed by those at the base
station on the re-arrival of the "Terra Nova," and Atkinson, who was the
senior member of those not now returning in her to civilisation, took
over the dogs according to Scott's directions. He proceeded to Hut Point
with Dimitri and the two dog teams on 13th February, and was kept in camp
by bad weather until 19th, when Crean reached the Hut and brought in the
news of my breakdown and collapse at Corner Camp. A blizzard precluded a
start for the purpose of relieving me, but this expedition was undertaken
immediately the weather abated. It was only during a temporary clear that
Lashly and I were rescued.
Considering my condition, Atkinson judged that if help could be obtained
from Cape Evans, his duty was to stay with me and save my life if
possible, and to depute Cherry-Garrard or Wright to take the dog-teams
out to One Ton Camp with Dimitri.
Scott would have preferred Wright to remain at Cape Evans, because he had
now relieved Simpson as physicist--Simpson being recalled by the Indian
So it was decided that Cherry-Garrard should take out the teams, which he
did, with twenty-four days' food for his own unit and two weeks' surplus
stores for the Southern party, with all kinds of special delicacies.
The real object of this trip was to hasten the Southern party's return
rather than to succour them.
Cherry-Garrard and Dimitri had a tough time of it. They, however, reached
One Ton Camp on March, and were held there by blizzard weather, which
made travelling impossible. Temperatures of 40 degrees below zero and
lower were experienced, the dogs were suffering acutely, and
Cherry-Garrard had to decide on the better course--to remain at One Ton
Camp, which Scott would surely make, if thus far north, with two
competent navigators in his team, or to scout and risk missing the party,
whilst using up the dogs' remaining strength. He very properly remained
at One Ton Camp and made his depot on 10th March, and after satisfying
himself that over a month's travelling rations were in the depot,
Cherry-Garrard started homeward, but he had by no means a sinecure in
this journey back--his dogs went wild at the start, smashed the
sledge-meter adrift, fought, and would keep no definite direction, thick
weather set in, and they had a fearful time marching northwards.
The season was rapidly closing, and without the practice in fog
navigation which the naval officers had, the situation of the unit was
alarming. The two men got into severe pressure and found great open
crevasses--this with their dogs ravenous and out of hand. Dimitri
practically collapsed, and being unable to express himself properly in
English, one can picture what Cherry-Garrard had to contend with. Late on
March 16 they won through to Hut Point in exceedingly bad condition.
Atkinson was seriously alarmed, and had two more sick men to nurse back
The dogs were frost-bitten, gaunt, and quite unfit for further work that
season. Meantime during the absence of the dog teams, before there was
anxiety on Scott's account, Pennell, responding to Atkinson's letter for
help, brought the "Terra Nova" up towards Hut Point, and a party under
Rennick conveyed me in pitiful state to the ship in my sleeping-bag.
I was placed in the Captain's cabin, and given Drake and Day as nurses. I
owe them a great debt too. Atkinson had still to remain at my side, for I
was even then at death's door--and, it is only due to Atkinson's
unremitting care that I am alive to-day. He came up therefore in the ship
and participated in the search for Campbell in the vicinity of Evans's
Coves, but after several unsuccessful attempts the "Terra Nova"
temporarily abandoned her objective and returned to Cape Evans on March
4. Here Keohane was picked up and taken with Atkinson to Hut
Point--Pennell relieved Atkinson of further responsibility on my account
and then landed him with Keohane here. It was impressed on Atkinson that
there was very little chance of relieving Campbell with ice conditions as
they were. They laid up a store of seal meat and blubber against the
return of Scott's company, while the ship made another fruitless attempt
to relieve Campbell. She did not return South after this on account of
the sea freezing and her own coal shortage, but proceeded back to New
Zealand, in accordance with her Commanding Officer's instructions.
Pennell was not justified in keeping the "Terra Nova" any later in the
Now let us consider poor Atkinson. He had Dimitri and Cherry-Garrard at
Hut Point in a state of collapse--he had on 16th March the knowledge that
the Polar Party were still on the Barrier with a season closing in and a
certainty of low temperature--there was no communication with Cape Evans,
for the ice had gone out and left open water between the two positions.
After discussing the situation fully, Atkinson and Keohane started out
alone to succour Scott's party. It was on March 26 that Atkinson and
Keohane set out, this being later in the year than we had sledged in
1911, when it will be remembered we gave up depot-laying on account of
the hardship entailed, although we were fresh men and had not undergone
the severe test of a long season's sledge work. Atkinson could only
manage about nine miles daily, he and Keohane got practically no sleep
owing to the cold, and they turned homeward after depositing a week's
food supply at Corner Camp, in case it could be made use of. Atkinson was
morally certain that the Polar Party had perished by this time, and, as
he states in his record of proceedings ("The last year at Cape Evans,
'Scott's Last Expedition,' Vol. II."), Scott's last diary entry was made
before he and Keohane reached Corner Camp. Atkinson arrived back at Hut
Point on April 1, 1912, utterly worn out, and in great concern on
Campbell's account, for the Northern party were known to be somewhere on
the coast. He could do nothing without assistance from Cape Evans, and he
awaited, therefore, the opportunity of reaching the base station as we
all had done when stranded at Hut Point twelve months previously. On
April 10, leaving Cherry-Garrard to tend the dogs, Atkinson, Keohane, and
Dimitri made their way to Cape Evans via the Castle Rock, Glacier Tongue
route, as described in the earlier part of this narrative, but, as it
happens, under almost unparalleled conditions, for they sailed over the
ice, riding on their sledge, such was the excellence of the sea-ice
The indefatigable Atkinson called the members together to discuss plans
and decide as to future relief work. The idea of making a farther journey
on to the Ice Barrier to succour Scott was rejected as useless--for there
was no hope whatever for the Southern party, and Atkinson himself knew
what the Barrier travelling was like. There was, however, a chance of
relieving Campbell and his five companions, known to have been set ashore
in the neighbourhood of Terra Nova Bay, and with this end in view,
Atkinson, Wright, Keohane, Williamson, Gran, and Dimitri set off on April
The last two were left at Hut Point whilst Atkinson and the other three
worked round the Southern end of McMurdo Sound on the sea-ice and up the
coast to Butter Point. It was a dangerous proceeding, but Atkinson was
undaunted by the perils of the sea ice breaking up, and he carried out a
tip-and-run sort of journey with great pluck and endurance, establishing
a depot of a fortnight's foodstuffs at Butter Point. On April. 20 the ice
was seen to break up and drift seawards from Butter Point, thus finally
putting a stop to any further search or relief work.
A somewhat hazardous return journey landed Atkinson's team at Hut Point,
and his whole party was re-collected at the Cape Evans Base by May 1 with
Here Lashly was looking after the seven mules presented by the Indian
Government, which the ship had brought down to enable Scott to explore
further the extent of the Victoria Land Coast, S.E. of the Beardmore.
Everything at Cape Evans in the scientific line was carried on as in the
preceding winter, and although the staff was reduced the records and
observations were continued as heretofore.
The Second Winter Party consisted of:
_Officers_--Atkinson, Wright, Debenham, Nelson, Cherry-Garrard, Gran.
_Men_--Archer, Williamson, Crean, Lashly, Keohane, Dimitri, Hooper.
Mr. Archer, our capable chief cook and steward, replaced Clissold, and
Williamson exchanged with Forde. The winter work of the Hut was
reorganised by Atkinson, so that every one was detailed to do that for
which he was best suited. Considering what the party had faced already,
that they were living in the shadow of a great disaster, and that
Campbell's fate was in doubt, one must feel that in a way they had the
hardest time of all in the Expedition. They had to sit down, as it were,
and wait in uncertainty for the winter to pass, then go out in search to
ascertain the fate of their leader, and probably that of Campbell.
I can only give a brief summary of the second winter, taken from
Atkinson's and Gran's accounts: the weather was probably exceptional from
the persistency of the early winter blizzards. There was a great dearth
of seal-meat, due to the ice blowing out from the North Bay and to the
lack of ice everywhere in May month.
Debenham gave great joy to the company after examining the geological
specimens brought by Atkinson's supporting party from the Beardmore.
Fossils of plants and small marine animals were found amongst them.
Ice formed at the end of May, but again blew out in June--close on to
midwinter, when the sea was seen to be phosphorescent, and Atkinson
writes: "We had a wonderful show of phosphorescence--we saw a seal
chasing a school of fish, the fish outlined with phosphorescence, and the
seal with a glowing snout and all his body bright in hot pursuit."
On midwinter day, after the attendant festivities, Atkinson called the
members together and outlined his plans for the coming season.
He says, "Two alternatives lay before us. One was to go South and try to
discover the fate of Captain Scott's party. I thought it most likely that
they had been lost in a crevasse on the Beardmore Glacier. Whether their
bodies could be found or not, it was highly desirable to go even as far
as the Upper Glacier Depot, nearly 600 miles from the Base, in the hope
of finding a note left in some depot which could tell whether they had
fulfilled their task or turned back before reaching the Pole. On general
grounds it was of great importance not to leave the record of the
Expedition incomplete, with one of its most striking chapters a blank.
"The other alternative was to go West and North to relieve Campbell and
his party, always supposing they had survived the winter. If they had
come through the winter every day of advancing summer would improve their
chances of living on in Terra Nova Bay. At the same time there was good
prospect of their ultimately being relieved by the ship, if indeed she
had not taken them off in the autumn. As for ourselves, it seemed most
improbable that we could journey up the coast owing to the abnormal state
of the ice. Instead of being frozen for the winter, the whole Sound to
the north and west of Inaccessible Island was open water during July; the
ice was driven out by the exceptionally strong and frequent winds, and
there was little chance of a firm road forming for the spring. Under
these conditions officers and men unanimously supported the decision to
An important fact is noted by Atkinson which is worth including for the
guidance of future expeditions. Six new sledges came down per "Terra
Nova" from Messrs. Hagen of Christiania, with tapered runners--the
breadth of the runner in front being 4 inches, diminishing to 2 1/2 on
the after part of the sledge. Compared with our original 12-foot pattern
the new sledges contrasted to great advantage over the old. The idea
seems to be that the broad iron portion should run over and smooth the
track for the after tapered portion.
The sun returned after its four months' absence on August 23 and found
the little party in excellent health and cheerful spirits. The mules and
dogs had been carefully exercised to be ready and fit for the new journey
South. A depot was laid 12 miles south of Corner Camp in mid-October, and
another by the dogs soon after. On October 29 Wright, Nelson, Gran,
Lashly, Crean, Williamson, Keohane, and Hooper left with six mules,
sledges, and a considerable provision store to search for Captain Scott
and the Polar Party. Atkinson followed with Cherry-Garrard and Dimitri on
1st November, taking the best available dogs in two teams. Without any
great trouble they reached One Ton Camp on November 10, having joined
forces with the mule party. Atkinson notes that here he found, as we had
done before, an oil shortage from paraffin tins in the depot leaking,
although there was no hole discernible. Some stores had been spoilt in
consequence. On the morning of 12th November the party found what they
sought--Scott's tent, snowed up and presenting a cairn-like appearance.
From Gran's diary the following is taken:
"It has happened--horrible, ugly fate, only 11 miles from One Ton
Depot, Scott, Wilson, and Birdie. All ghastly. I will never forget it
as long as I live: a terrible nightmare could not have shown more
horror than this 'Campo Santo.' In a tent, snow covered to above the
door, we found the three bodies. Scott in the middle, half out of his
bag, Birdie on his right, and Uncle Bill on the left, lying head
towards the door. .. Bowers and Wilson seem to have passed away in a
kind of sleep.... Concerning our unlucky Polar Party we learned that
Petty Officer Evans died at the Lower Glacier Depot; he was done, and
had fallen coming down the Glacier: death was the result of a
concussion of the brain. On the Barrier they met with extreme low
temperatures. Down to -50 degrees in the night time for weeks, also
"'Soldier' had got his feet frost-bitten badly and suffered
enormously. He understood that the salvation of the party depended on
his death--but as death would not relieve him he went out of the tent
in a blizzard to meet it. The three others arrived here at this camp
March 21 with food for two days and fuel for one meal. A terrible
blizzard prevented them from getting in, and on March 29 all was
"Scott writes in his diary: 'There is no more hope, and so God look
after our people....' All this only a day's march from plenty.... We
buried them this morning, a solemn undertaking. How strange it was to
see men bareheaded whilst the wind blew with the thermometer at -20
degrees. We are now going to look for 'Soldier' and then return to
look for Campbell. I must say our Expedition is not given much luck
... the sun is shining beautifully in this place of death: over the
Bluff this morning stood a distinct cross in clouds."
It continues: "November 12, Lunch time:
"We have built a cairn--a 12-foot cairn--and put a cross made of a pair
of skis on it...." Gran says later, and it is worth quoting: "When I saw
those three poor souls the other day, I just felt that I envied them.
They died having done something great. How hard death must be for those
who meet it having done nothing."
Atkinson in his account says:
"We recovered all their gear and dug out the sledge with their
belongings on it. Amongst these were 35 lb. of very important
geological specimens which had been collected on the moraines of the
Beardmore Glacier: at Doctor Wilson's request they had stuck to these
up to the very end, even when disaster stared them in the face and
they knew that the specimens were so much weight added to what they
had to pull...."
The following record was left:
"November 12, 1912, Latitude 79 degrees, 50 minutes, South. This cross
and cairn are erected over the bodies of Captain Scott, C.V.O., R.N.,
Doctor E.A. Wilson, M.B., B.C., Cantab., and Lieutenant H.R. Bowers,
Royal Indian Marine--a slight token to perpetuate their successful and
gallant attempt to reach the Pole. This they did on January 17, 1912,
after the Norwegian Expedition had already done so. Inclement weather
with lack of fuel was the cause of their death. Also to commemorate
their two gallant comrades, Captain L.E.G. Oates of the Inniskilling
Dragoons, who walked to his death in a blizzard to save his comrades,
about eighteen miles south of this position; also of Seaman Edgar
Evans, who died at the foot of the Beardmore Glacier. 'The Lord gave
and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.'"
This was signed by all the members of the party.
"I decided then to march twenty miles south with the whole of the
Expedition and try to find the body of Captain Oates. For half the day
we proceeded south, as far as possible along the line of the previous
season's march. On one of the old pony walls, which was simply marked
by a ridge of the surface of the snow, we found Oates's sleeping-bag,
which they had brought along with them after he had left.
"The next day we proceeded thirteen miles more south, hoping and
searching to find his body. When we arrived at the place where he had
left them, we saw that there was no chance of doing so. The kindly
snow had covered his body, giving him a fitting burial. Here, again,
as near to the site of the death as we could judge, we built another
cairn to his memory, and placed thereon a small cross and the
following record: 'Hereabouts died a very gallant gentleman, Captain
L.E.G. Oates of the Inniskilling Dragoons. In March, 1912, returning
from the Pole, he walked willingly to his death in a blizzard, to try
and save his comrades, beset by hardships. This note is left by the
Relief Expedition of 1912.'"
Atkinson writes also, and it should be inserted most certainly here,
referring to their return after hunting for poor Oates's body:
"On the second day we came again to the resting place of the three and
bade them there a final farewell. There alone in their greatness they
will lie without change or bodily decay, with the most fitting tomb in
the world above them."
Atkinson could not have expressed himself more beautifully. My book
should end here, but there is an epilogue to it: it is the illuminating
story of Campbell and his northern party, with a short indication of what
was done elsewhere by the Expedition's men. The homeward journey was made
in sorrow and doubt, for Atkinson's little band of brothers had to
shoulder another responsibility--the determination of Campbell's fate.
On November 27, 1912, Gran's diary gives as follows:
"Great news again--great, good news. Campbell here and his party safe
at Cape Evans. They just missed us going out. They lived a winter a la
Eskimo, Igloo and so on, and have been quite comfortable, so they say.
Campbell is looking very well. He is now in command, and intends to do
only small trips--Erebus and so on...."
Atkinson now handed over to Campbell, and whilst mentioning this it is
just as well to call attention to the splendid services of Dr. Atkinson.
Grit and loyalty were his outstanding qualities. He was later on
specially promoted to Surgeon Commander for his work in the Expedition.
ADVENTURES OF THE NORTHERN PARTY
To set forth concisely the adventurous story of Campbell's Northern Party
in a single chapter is no light task. Raymond Priestley has written it in
book form already, just as Griffith-Taylor has published his particular
narrative of the Western Journey in "The Silver Lining." Both books are
of absorbing interest to those who are fond of Polar literature.
I have, I hope, made clear the reason of Campbell's landing at Cape
Adare. Mr. Borchgrevink in his "Southern Cross" Antarctic Expedition used
this position as his winter quarters, and found, just as Campbell did,
that it was not a suitable part of the Antarctic continent for making
extensive sledge journeys from. Still, King Edward's Land was denied him.
Amundsen was established before him in the Bay of Whales, and in spite of
diligent search the Cape Adare choice was the only one left to Victor
Campbell and his five companions. Scott's instructions have already been
reproduced in this volume: he mentioned Robertson Bay, and Cape Adare is
at the N.E. extreme of the Promontory bounding the Bay to the Eastward.
Campbell was by no means satisfied with his landing place, but coal was
short in the "Terra Nova" and the season drawing in. He had vainly
searched for a more profitable wintering place, and it was not until
February 17 that he got his chance of landing here even.
The party and their stores were put ashore on the beach which the
"Southern Cross" Expedition had chosen, for want of a better spot where
their stuff could be set safely on land. Loose ice and surf hampered
operations, for owing to shallow water, boats had to convey hut, gear,
and equipment from the ship instead of sledges taking it over fast ice,
as was the case at Cape Evans. It was truly a case of bundling Campbell
and Co. out of the ship, and only their great optimism and _bonhomie_
kept this party from despair. As it turned out they had some of the best
of the Expedition game, since neither disaster nor terrific
disappointment dogged their steps as in Scott's case, for up till the
very last they were in blissful ignorance of our dreadful plight in the
The old huts left by Borchgrevink in 1900 were much dilapidated: one
snowed up inside, and the other roofless and full of penguin guano. The
snow was all removed from the snow-choked hut, and this shack used as a
temporary shelter during the building of the Chateau Campbell. The work
of landing stores from the "Terra Nova" was accomplished in two days, and
the ship, after tooting a farewell to the little party on her siren,
steamed away and left them to their own devices.
The Cape Adare locality is a famous penguin rookery, and Campbell's men
might for all the world have been erecting their hut on Hampstead Heath
during a Bank Holiday, for the penguins gathered in their thousands
around them in a cawing, squawking crowd.
Penguins are the true inhabitants of Antarctica, and have flourished for
countless ages in these parts. Surgeon Levick, Campbell's doctor, has
written a splendid little book entitled "Antarctic Penguins" (Heinemann),
which tells all about the little beggars in popular language. The members
landed with Lieutenant Victor Campbell were:
Levick . . . Surgeon and Zoologist.
Priestley . . Geologist.
Abbott . . . Seaman.
Browning . . Seaman.
Dickason . . Seaman.
The three seamen were chosen by Campbell after careful observation on the
The Northern Party Hut was completed and first inhabited by March 5. An
ice house for the storage of fresh meat was constructed, or rather
hollowed out of an iceberg grounded close to. Unfortunately, this had to
be evacuated owing to a surf causing the berg to disintegrate, and V
Campbell puts it, "we had only just time to rescue the forty penguins
with which we had stocked it, and carry the little corpses to a near
ice-house built of empty cases filled with ice."
To appreciate best the surrounding hereabouts one may as well give a
brief description of the Cape Adare and Robertson Bay environment. The
place on which the hut was built is a small triangular beach cut off from
the mainland by inaccessible cliffs. A fine bay, containing an area of
perhaps nine hundred square miles, lies to the westward, and south and
behind this the Admiralty Range of Mountains rises in snowy splendour to
heights of 10,000 feet or more; other ranges are visible far to the
westward, whilst black basalt rocks overhang the station.
Several wall-faced glaciers are visible, but according to Campbell none
are possible to climb on to, nor do they lead up to the inland plateau.
On this account the party were unable to accomplish any serious sledging
whilst landed here. Other things were undertaken, and the members did
excellent meteorological, geological, and magnetic work, while Campbell
himself made some good surveys. Priestley has added, greatly to our
geological knowledge, and he, with his previous Antarctic experience,
made himself invaluable to his chief. The Aurora observations show much
more variegated results than we got at Cape Evans, where, as pointed out,
there was a great absence of colour beyond pale yellow in the displays.
The principal drawback of the beach here was its covering of guano and
manure dust from the myriads of penguins and their predecessors. I had
gone ashore at Cape Adare as a sub-lieutenant on January 8, 1903, to
leave a record, and I remember that we had literally to trample on the
penguins to get across the beach to Borchgrevink's hut--how interesting
it all was, my first landing on this inhospitable continent: my
impressions left a wonderful memory of mouse-coloured, woolly little
young of the Adelie penguin--I even remember taking one away and trying
unsuccessfully to bring it up. It must have taken Campbell's crew a long
time to get accustomed to the pungent odour thereabouts. Levick dressed
the ground with bleaching powder to help dispel that dreadful odour of
guano before Campbell's men put down their hut floor.
There is little to be set down concerning the Cape Adare winter--the
routine much resembled our own winter routine at Cape Evans; it was much
warmer, however, and being six degrees farther north the sun left the
party nearly a month later and returned the same amount earlier; they had
little more than two months with the sun below the horizon in fact.
There is a certain amount of quiet humour about Campbell's record; for
instance, he states that they used their "pram" or Norwegian skiff and
tried trawling for biological specimens on March 27--"our total catch was
one sea-louse, one sea-slug, and one spider."
It is very interesting to note that in March they had Aurora in which "an
arc of yellow stretched from N.W. to N.E., while a green and red curtain
extended from the N.W. horizon to the zenith."
The "pram" was Campbell's gift to the Expedition. He was always alive in
the matter of small boats and their uses, and he was the first to use
"kayaks" by making canvas boats to fit round the sledges; these were
light enough and might have well been used by us in the Main Party. Had
poor Mackintosh possessed one in Shackleton's last expedition he and his
companions would probably have saved themselves--if they had carried a
canvas cover on a sledge with them however it is always easy to be wise
after the event.
Levick's medical duties were very light indeed: they included the
stopping of one of Campbell's teeth, and the latter says, "As he had been
flensing a seal a few days before, his fingers tasted strongly of
Priestly took charge of the meteorology for this station in addition to
his own special subjects. Abbott was the carpenter, Browning the
acetylene gas-man, and Dickason the cook and baker. With these ends in
view Mr. Archer had had Dickason in the galley on board during the
This hut of theirs was stayed down with wire hawser on account of the
gales recorded by the "Southern Cross" Expedition.
The company's alarm clock, an invention of Browning's, deserves the
description taken from Campbell's diary: "We have felt the want of an
alarm clock, as in such a small party it seems undesirable that any one
should have to remain awake the whole night to take the 2-4 a.m.
observations, but Browning has come to the rescue with a wonderful
contrivance. It consists of a bamboo spring held back by a piece of
cotton rove through a candle which is marked off in hours. The other end
of the cotton is attached to the trigger of the gramophone, and whoever
takes the midnight observations winds the gramophone, 'sets' the cotton,
lights the candle, and turns the trumpet towards Priestley, who has to
turn out for the 2 a.m. At ten minutes to two the candle burns the thread
and releases the bamboo spring, which being attached to the trigger,
starts the gramophone in the sleeper's ear, and he turns out and stops
the tune; this arrangement works beautifully and can be timed to five
Curiously enough Campbell's men sustained far more frostbites than we at
Cape Evans did: in all my four Antarctic voyages I have never been
frost-bitten beyond a touch here and there on the finger-tips working
instruments, yet I occasionally now get chilblains in an ordinary English
A short expedition was made by Campbell, Priestley, and Abbott on July
29, to determine the travelling condition and find out what sort of
surface would be met with for coastwise sledging to come when the season
opened. Speed worked out at little over seven miles a day on the outward
trip to Duke of York Island. The salt-flecked, smooth ice was heavier
going than much rougher stuff where pressure obtained.
On August 8 a small two-day geological expedition was undertaken, and
prepared to start on a more extensive journey westward; the party were
disappointed to find the ice had all blown out and left them
water-girdled; a blizzard of unusual violence followed the exit of ice,
and the storehouse roof was torn away.
It must have been a severe blow to the energetic Campbell that he was
denied serious sledging while quartered at Cape Adare. Minor expeditions
were undertaken and some useful information gleaned, but unsafe ice and
unsatisfactory conditions all round prevented any of the really long
journeys Campbell would otherwise have made.
The "Terra Nova" was sighted on January 4, and in two days Campbell, his
party and belongings were safely on board and proceeding along the coast
eager to try their fortunes farther South, Evans Coves in Latitude 75
degrees being the next objective. The ship was placed alongside the
Piedmont here on January 8, near a big moraine close north of the Coves.
A depot of provisions was established, and an arrangement was come to
between Pennell and Campbell that the latter should be picked up on
February 18. Reference to the sketch charts will show the part of
Victoria Land in which Campbell was now working.
It was proposed to sledge round Mount Melbourne to Wood Bay, and examine
the neighbourhood geologically and geographically. The sledge team found
some remarkable ice structures and new and interesting glaciers. They
had, a crop of small adventures, and found sandstone rock containing
fossil wood and many other excellent fossils, garnets, etc., besides
which Campbell did good work surveying. A new glacier was named after
Priestley and another after Campbell.
More fossils were discovered on February 1, and a quantity of lichens,
shells, worm casts, and sponge spicules were discovered in the locality
of Evans Coves, to which the party returned. On February 17 they began to
look for the "Terra Nova," but as time went on and she did not put in an
appearance Campbell prepared to winter. Pennell as we know had met with
ice conditions that were insuperable, and he never got the ship within 30
miles of the coast. Pennell, Rennick, and Bruce did all that men could do
to work the "Terra Nova" through, but communication was impossible that
season, and the Northern Party was left to face the rigours of a Polar
winter with nothing more than four weeks' sledging ration and 270 lb. of
biscuits extra. His companions could not have been better chosen to help
Campbell through this ordeal. The leader knew his men absolutely, and
they themselves were lucky in having such a resourceful and determined
officer in charge.
On March 1 Victor Campbell selected a hard snow slope for the winter
home, and into this he and his men cut and burrowed until they had
constructed an igloo or snow house, 13 feet by 9: They insulated this
with blocks of snow and seaweed. A trench roofed with sealskins and snow
formed the entrance, and at the sides of this passage they had their
store rooms and larder.
All the time this house was under construction a party was employed
killing penguins and seals, for which they kept a constant lookout. By
March 15 their larder contained 120 penguins and 11 seals. After this
date gale succeeded gale and the winter set in with a long run of bad
weather. Campbell and his companions led a very primitive existence here
for six and a half months.
They only had their light summer sledging clothes to wear, and these soon
became saturated with blubber: their hair and beards grew, and they were
soon recognisable only by their voices. Some idea of their discomforts
will be gleaned by a description of their diet. Owing to their
prospective journey to Cape Evans, Campbell had first to reduce the
biscuit supply from eight to two biscuits a day, and then to one.
Generally their diet consisted of one mug of "pemmican and seal hoosh"
and a biscuit for breakfast, _nothing_ for lunch, a mug and a half of
seal, one biscuit and three-quarters of a pint of thin cocoa for supper.
On Sundays weak tea was substituted for cocoa, this they re-boiled for
Mondays' supper, and the dried leaves were used for tobacco on Tuesdays.
Their only luxuries were a piece of chocolate and twelve lumps of sugar,
weekly, and twenty-five raisins apiece were kept for birthdays. One lucky
find was thirty-six fish in the stomach of a seal, which fried in blubber
proved excellent. The biscuit ration had to be stopped entirely from July
to September. The six men cooked their food in sea-water as they had no
salt, and seaweed was used as a vegetable. Priestley is reported to have
disliked it, and no wonder, for it has probably rotted in the sun for
years, and the penguins have trampled it all down, apart from anything
Campbell kept a wonderful discipline in his party, and as they were
sometimes confined to the igloo for days, Swedish drill was introduced to
keep them healthy. A glance at their weather record shows how necessary
this was. We find one day snowing hard, next day blowing hard, and the
third day blowing and snowing hard, nearly all through the winter. But
there was never a complaint.
On Sunday divine service was performed, which consisted of Campbell
reading a chapter of the Bible, followed by hymns. They had no hymn book,
but Priestley remembered several, while Abbott, Browning and Dickason had
all been at some time or other in a choir.
To add to their discomfort, owing to the state of their clothing and
meagre food supply, they were very susceptible to frostbites, and Jack
Frost made havoc with feet, fingers, and faces.
We should here give a little thought to the dark dreariness of their
surroundings. This party was not so very far north of Cape Evans, and
their winter was only about three weeks shorter if measured by the sun's
absence below the horizon--the contrast between the "palace" at Cape
Evans and the ice-cave at Campbell's position is ridiculous, and to think
that the little crew remained cheerful and in harmony under such
troglodyte conditions, it makes one wonder more and more at the manner of
the men. They had none of the comfort, entertainment, and good feeling of
their co-explorers at the base, the very dimensions of their habitation
explains for itself the cramped nature of their existence, and yet no
complaints, and nothing but unswerving loyalty to their boss. Weaker
minded men would have broken down mentally under the strain of living
through that winter.
The sunlight went at the beginning of May, gradually leaving them with
those peculiar drawn-out half lights, which we all grew to know so
well--the whimpering purple clouds, the sad-looking hills, and the
desolate ice slopes and snow drifts--the six men were imprisoned with
sullen hills and unassailable mountains for jailers, until they had
undergone their sentence--the sea their chief jailer, for the sea had set
them there and it was for the sea to decide on the time of their release.
Boots had long since given out, and they had to guard against ruining
their finneskoe or it would have been good-bye to any sledging round to
Cape Evans when the sea did freeze. Seal blubber was utilised for
cooking, and whenever seals were killed the chunks of this greasy stuff
had to be carried to the igloo on the men's backs--this meant that their
clothes soon smelt very badly, which circumstance added to the misery of
their living conditions.
On May 6 Campbell's party sustained a severe disappointment, for they saw
what appeared to be four men coming towards them. Immediately they jumped
to the conclusion that the ship had been frozen in and that this was a
search party. The four figures turned out to be Emperor penguins, and
although disappointing in one way they served to replenish the larder,
and so had their use.
Here are three specimen diary pages extracted from Campbell's journey:
April 9.--Warmer to-day. We saw a small seal on a floe but were unable to
reach him. The bay remains open still. On the still days a thin film of
ice forms, but blows out as soon as the wind comes up. In these early
days, before we had perfected our cooking and messing arrangements, a
great part of our day was taken up with cooking and preparing the food,
but later on we got used to the ways of a blubber stove, and things went
more smoothly. We had landed all our spare paraffin from the ship, and
this gave us enough oil to use the primus for breakfast, provided we
melted the ice over the blubber fire the day before. The blubber stove
was made of an old oil tin cut down. In this we put some old seal bones
taken from the carcasses we found on the beach.
"A piece of blubber skewered on to a marline-spike and held over the
flame dripped oil on the bones and fed the fire. In this way we could
cook hoosh nearly as quickly as we could on the primus. Of course the
stove took several weeks of experimenting before it reached this
satisfactory state. With certain winds we were nearly choked with a
black, oily smoke that hurt our eyes and brought on much the same
symptoms as accompany snow-blindness.
"We take it in turns to be cook and messman, working in pairs: Abbott and
I, Levick and Browning, Priestley and Dickason, and thus each has one day
on in three. The duties of the cooks are to turn out at 7 and cook and
serve out the breakfast, the others remaining in their bags for the meal.
Then we all have a siesta till 10.30, when we turn out for the day's
work: The cook starts the blubber stove and melts blubber for the lamps.
The mess-man takes an ice-axe and chips frozen seal meat in the passage
by the light of a blubber lamp. A cold job this and trying to the temper,
as scraps of meat fly in all directions and have to be care-fully
collected afterwards. The remainder carry up the meat and blubber, or
look for seals. By 5 p.m. all except the cooks are in their bags, and we
have supper. After supper the cooks melt ice for the morning, prepare
breakfast, and clear up."
"May 7.--A blizzard with heavy drift has been blowing all day, so it was
a good job we got the penguins. We have got the roof on the shaft now,
but in these blizzards the entrance is buried in snow, and we have a job
to keep the shaft clear. Priestley has found his last year's journal, and
reads some to us every evening.
"From now till the end of the month strong gales again reduced our
outside work to a minimum, and most of our energies were directed to
improving our domestic routine.
"We have now a much better method for cutting up the meat for the hoosh.
Until now we had to take the frozen joints and hack them in pieces with
an ice-axe. We have now fixed up an empty biscuit tin on a bamboo tripod
over the blubber fire. The small pieces of meat we put in this to thaw:
the larger joints hang from the bamboo. In this way they thaw
sufficiently in the twenty-four hours to cut up with a knife, and we find
this cleaner and more economical.
"We celebrated two special occasions on this month, my wedding day on the
10th, and the anniversary, to use a paradox, of the commissioning of the
hut on the 17th, and each time the commissariat officer relaxed his hold
to the extent of ten raisons each.
"Levick is saving his biscuit to see how it feels to go without cereals
for a week. He also wants to have one real good feed at the end of the
week. His idea is that by eating more blubber he will not feel the want
of the biscuit very much."
"July 4.--Southerly wind, with snow, noise of pressure at sea and the
ice in the Bay breaking up. Evidently there is wind coming, and the
sea ice which has recently formed will go out again like the rest. It
is getting rather a serious question as to whether there will be any
sea ice for us to get down the coast on. I only hope that to the South
of the Drygalski ice tongue, where the south-easterlies are the
prevailing winds, we shall find the ice has held. Otherwise it will
mean that we shall have to go over the plateau, climbing up by Mount
Larsen, and coming down the Ferrar Glacier, and if so we cannot start
until November, and the food will be a problem.
"We made a terrible discovery in a hoosh tonight: a penguin's flipper.
Abbott and I prepared the hoosh. I can remember using a flipper to
clean the pot with, and in the dark Abbott cannot have seen it when he
filled the pot. However, I assured every one it was a fairly clean
flipper, and certainly the hoosh was a good one."
In this diary are some remarkable entries. Attempts were made to vary the
flavour of the "Hooshes"--one entry is very queer reading: it related how
after trying one or two other expedients Levick used a mustard plaster in
the pemmican and seal stew. The unanimous decision was that it must have
been a linseed poultice, for mustard could not be tasted at all, yet the
flavour of linseed was most distinct.
Campbell says that Midwinter Day gave them seasonable weather, pitch
dark, with wind and a smothering drift outside. The men awoke early and
were so eager and impatient for their full ration on this special
occasion that they could not remain in their sleeping-bags, but turned
out to cook a "full hoosh breakfast" for the first time for many
weeks--that evening they repeated the hoosh and augmented it by cocoa
with sugar in it, then four citric acid and two ginger tabloids. The day
concluded with a smoke and a sing-song, a little tobacco having been put
by for the event.
Soon after Midwinter Day a heavy snowstorm blocked the igloo entrance
completely; in consequence the air became so bad that the primus stove
went out and the lights would not burn. The inmates had to dig their way
out to avoid being suffocated. This impoverishment of air had already
happened through the same cause on other occasions, so the flickering and
going out of the lamps warned immediately of danger, and a watch was set.
Normally the chimney would have served, but this itself was buried under
the snow until built up afresh.
The winter passed in dismal hardship, and even when the rare spells of
fine weather occurred the party dare not venture far afield in their
meagre, oil-saturated clothing--severe frostbite would have spelt
What the place must have looked like by moonlight I hate to think; by
daylight with sunshine it looked bad enough, but from Levick's
description it looked, when the moon was shining through storm cloud,
like an inferno, with its lugubrious ridges, its inky shadows, and wicked
ice-gleams. The odd figures of the blubber-smeared, grimy men added the
The sun came back at last, and with it the party's spirits rose
considerably; they indulged in bets and jokes at one another's expense.
Browning and Dickason were undoubtedly the wittiest, and "the fish supper
bet" is worth inclusion. Short said these two started an argument on the
name of a certain public-house situate on Portsmouth Hard. One said one
name, one argued another, until Dr. Levick was invited to settle the
dispute by arbitration, the loser to stand the winner a fish supper.
Eventually Browning was adjudged to be correct, and Dickason in a fit of
generosity shouted, "All right, old man, and for every fish you eat I'll
stand you a quart of beer." "Right-o, the only fish I cares for is
whitebait," replied Browning.
Towards the end of the winter, owing to the unusual diet, sickness set in
in the shape of enteritis. Browning suffered dreadfully, but always
remained cheerful. The ravages of the illness weakened the party sadly,
and details are too horrible to write about--suffice it that the party
lost control of their organs, a circumstance that rendered existence in
their wintering place a nightmare of privations.
Preparations were made for the party's departure in the spring and the
sledges overhauled. A depot of geological specimens was established and
marked by a bamboo.
A curious ailment developed itself, which was named "Igloo Back," from
constant bending in the low-roofed igloo. It was due to the stretching of
the ligaments around the spine and was a painful thing for the
Campbell and his companions started for Cape Evans on September 30.
Progress was slow and the party weak, but thanks to their grit and to
Campbell's splendid leadership, the Northern Party all got through to the
winter quarters alive. Browning had to be carried on the sledge part of
the way, but fortunately they picked up one of Griffith-Taylor's depots,
and the biscuit found here quite altered Browning's condition.
Poor Campbell was glad to get his party out of the dirt and dark of the
igloo, but they were so weak that they could only march a mile from the
first day, however the sledging ration contained good foodstuff compared
to what they had eaten for weeks previously; and, oh, wise precaution!
Campbell had deposited a small store of spare wind clothing and woollen
underclothes against the journey over the sea to Cape Evans. This he
issued on leaving that awful "igloo," and the luxury of getting into dry,
clean clothing after the greasy rags they discarded was indescribable.
For nine months had they worn those dirty garments without change.
The second day homeward at most gave five miles, but although tired out
the party were in good spirits "at leaving the dirt and squalor of the
hut behind." They were making their way south along the coast, sledging
over the "Piedmont." Shortly after starting, the company were faced with
an enormous crevasse, but this was safely negotiated by means of a snow
bridge "175 paces across." Pace gradually lengthened and strengthened,
and on 12th October 11 miles was covered, and on camping Erebus and Mount
Melbourne were both in sight.
I do not propose to write a description of this journey back, it was not
so dangerous as others had been, because seals and Emperor penguins were
met with along the route, and so they ran no risk of starving; but they
ran a great risk of losing Browning, who caused the doctor the gravest
concern. They laboured home, however, and the leader's diary for one Red
Letter, and Two Black Letter days must be included here, for they explain
"October 29.--Turned out at 4.30 a.m. A fine day, but a bank of cloud
to the south and a cold westerly wind. A two hours' march brought us
to Cape Roberts, where I saw through my glasses a bamboo stuck on the
top of the cape. Leaving the sledges, Priestley and I climbed the
cape, when we found a record left by the Western Party last year
before they were picked up, and giving their movements, while near by
was a depot of provisions they had left behind. We gave such a yell
the others ran up the slope at once. It seemed almost too good to be
"We found two tins of biscuits, one slightly broached, and a small bag
each of raisins, tea, cocoa, butter, and lard.
"There were also clothes, diaries, and specimens from Granite Harbour.
I decided to camp here and have a day off.
"Dividing the provisions between the two tents, we soon had hoosh
going and such a feed of biscuit, butter; and lard as we had not had
for nine months, and we followed this up with sweet, thick cocoa.
After this we killed and cut up a seal, as we are getting short of
meat and there is every prospect of a blizzard coming on.
"Levick and Abbott saw a desperate fight between two bull seals
to-day. They gashed each other right through skin and blubber till
they were bleeding badly.
"We had another hoosh and more biscuit and lard in the evening; then
we turned into our bags and, quite torpid with food, discussed our
plans on arriving at Cape Evans. We had quite decided we should find
no one there, for we believed the whole party had been blown north in
the ship while trying to reach us. Still discussing plans we fell
"What with news from the main party and food (although both were a
year old), it was the happiest day since we last saw the ship. I awoke
in the night, finished my share of the butter and most of my lard,
then dozed off again."
"November 6.--Another fine day. We marched till 1 p.m., when our
sledge broke down, the whole runner coming off. As we were only one
mile from Hut Point I camped. Priestley, Dickason, and I walked in to
look for news and get another sledge, as I was sure some would be
"As we neared the Point we noticed fresh tracks of mule and dogs. I
pointed them out to Priestley, and said, 'I hope there is nothing
wrong with the Pole Party, as I do not like the look of these.' He
said, 'No more do I' We ran up to the hut and found a letter from
Atkinson to the 'Commanding Officer, Terra Nova.' I opened this and
learnt the sad news of the loss of the Polar Party. The names of the
party were not given, and finding Atkinson in charge of the search
party which had started, I was afraid 2 units, or 8 men, were lost.
Finding a sledge only slightly damaged, I took that back to the camp,
getting back there about 5 p.m.
"We were all rather tired, so instead of starting straight on to Cape
Evans, we had supper and went to sleep. Before turning in we made a
depot of the broken sledge, all rock specimens, clothes and food, so
as to travel light to Cape Evans. I was very anxious to get there as
soon as possible, as I thought there was a chance that there might be
one or two mules or enough dogs to enable me to follow the search
party. It had been a great disappointment for us to have missed them
by a week, as we were all anxious to join in the search."
"November 7.--4 a.m. A lovely morning. After a hasty breakfast we were
off, arriving at Cape Evans at 5 p.m. We found no one at home, but a
letter on the door of the hut gave us all the news and the names of
the lost party. Very soon Debenham and Archer returned, giving us a
most hearty, welcome, and no one can realise what it meant to us to
see new faces and to be home after our long winter.
"Our clothes, letters, etc., had been landed from the ship, and we
were able to read our home letters, which we had only time to glance
at in the ship in February. Archer provided a sumptuous dinner that
night, and we sailed into it in a way that made Debenham hold his
breath. A bath and change of clothes completed the transformation."
NARRATIVE OF THE "TERRA NOVA"
The second ascent of Mount Erebus was carried out in December, 1912, by a
party under Raymond Priestley, and although it cannot be described in a
little volume like this a really fine scientific journey was made by
Griffith-Taylor, Debenham, Gran, and Petty Officer Forde. They had the
best time of the lot, for they carried out their explorations in blissful
ignorance of the tribulations of Scott, Campbell, Atkinson and myself,
whose stories I have tried to summarise.
For breezy reading and real bright narrative commend me to
Griffith-Taylor. Volume II. of "Scott's Last Expedition" contains the
story of the "Western journeys" as written by him, and they give quite
truly the Silver Lining to the Cloud which formed about the rest of our
For lightheartedness and good fellowship our Australian geologists should
be given first prize. It is of little use writing about distances covered
and dangers overcome in this connection, but if one considers that the
Western Geological Party surveyed, examined, charted, photographed, and
to some extent plodded over a mountainous, heavily glaciated land lying
in an area of the entire acreage of Kent, Sussex, Hants, Dorset, Devon,
and Cornwall, one gets a fair idea of what "Griff" and Co. were playing
Taylor was the first professional physiographer to visit the Antarctic
Continent, and besides being an all round man of science he was an
admirable fellow, with the widest outlook on life of any man amongst us.
I cannot pretend to write on geology; Taylor, Debenham, and Priestley are
still drawing up reports on Antarctic physiography and glacial geology on
our fossils collected, on the Barrier Movement, and the retreating ice of
that Frozen Wonderland. Some day another expedition, more up to date than
ours, will force its way into the Heart of that Frigid Zone. If this
expedition sets out soon, I hope I may command it when I am still fresh
and fit--if that great good fortune comes my way I shall telegraph to
Griff and ask him to be my "Uncle Bill," and to help me as Wilson helped
As this is only a popular version of the last Scott Antarctic Expedition
I have not collected any scientific appendices, and I have tried not to
throw any bouquets at one member more than another--if I have failed I
have done it accidentally, for one has no favourites after nearly ten
years. My especial friends in the Expedition were the lieutenants,
Campbell, Pennell, Rennick, Bowers, and Bruce, and of the scientists I
was most fond of Nelson.
The concluding part of this narrative is concerned with our little ship,
for which we had such affection.
To connect the story up one must go back to the time when on March 3,
1912, the "Terra Nova" made her last call for the year at Cape
Evans--here she embarked those members returning home, who for various
causes had not been collected before. Then it will be remembered that
Keohane was taken to Hut Point and landed with Atkinson, and afterwards,
owing to the thickening up of the ice in McMurdo Sound, the ship's head
was turned Northward. The ice conditions off the Bay where Campbell was
landed were terrific, and the little whaler had a tough time forcing her
way out into the Ross Sea once more after failure to relieve him.
She arrived in New Zealand on April 1, to learn of Amundsen's success,
and I went home a physical wreck with Francis Drake, the secretary, to
carry out Scott's wishes in the matter of finance. It was many months
before I could get about in comfort; but my wife nursed me back to
health. Several scientific and other members dispersed to their
respective duties in civil life. Pennell temporarily paid off the seamen
who had joined in New Zealand, and took the ship away to survey Admiralty
Bay in the Sounds according to arrangements made with the New Zealand
Government. During this operation we had the great misfortune to lose by
drowning Stoker Petty Officer Robert Brissenden.
Finally the little "Terra Nova" filled up with coal and left for the
South to pick up Scott and his expedition. She was once more under my
command as her original Captain, Pennell very gracefully and unselfishly
standing down to the position of second in command.
The programme included an extensive sounding cruse, guided to some degree
by what Professor David of Sydney University wished for, to throw further
light on the great earth folds. The voyage was like its predecessors,
except that we purposely kept in Longitude 165 W. to sound over new
portions of the ocean, every opportunity being taken to gain fresh
information and fulfil the requirements of the biological programme too.
We had hardly our share of gales this voyage, and although we expected to
meet with the pack in about 66 S. Latitude, it was not reached until we
had attained the 69th parallel--two degrees farther South than we had
found it in the "Terra Nova"'s first two voyages.
The only other expedition that had explored the Eastern part of the Ross
Sea so far was that under Ross in the "Erebus" and "Terror." We did not
gain anything by forcing the pack so far East, however, for we
encountered a heavy belt of ice through which we fought our way for 400
The weather mostly served us well, and great credit is due to Rennick,
Lillie, and Pennell for their sounding, biological, and magnetic work
respectively--they were indefatigable, and even though it blew hard on
occasions, thanks to Rennick's expert handling of the Lucas machine we
obtained several soundings in 3000 fathoms when less ardent hydrographers
would have surrendered to the bad weather.
January 15 found us passing through loose pack--sometimes the ship was in
large open leads--we stopped on one of these and sounded. To our surprise
we found 368 fathoms, volcanic rock--in 72 degrees 0 minutes S., 168
degrees 17 minutes W. we found the depth 2322 fathoms, so we had struck
the continental shelf right enough in Latitude 73 degrees. By 8 p.m. we
were in even shallower water--in fact we discovered a shoal in only 158
fathoms--it was a great discovery for us, and Lillie immediately put over
the Agassiz trawl. After dragging it along the bottom for half an hour we
hauled in and found the net full of stuff. Big-mouthed fish, worms,
spiders, anemones, sea-cucumbers, polyzoa, prawns, little fish like
sardines, one spiky fish like nothing on earth, starfish and octopus,
limpets with jointed shells, sponges, ascidians; isopods, and all kinds
of sea lice. Enough to keep Lillie busy for weeks.
The evening before we finally broke through into open water was
beautifully still, and a low cloud settled down in the form of a thick
fog--it was a change from the fine, clear weather--frost rime settled
everywhere, and for a time we had to stop. There was a weird stillness
over all, and whenever the ship was moved amongst the ice-floes a curious
hiss was heard; this sound is well known to all ice navigators: it is the
sear of the floe against the greenheart sheathing which protects the
little ship, and it is to the ice-master what the strange smell of the
China Seas is to the far Eastern navigator, what the Mediterranean
"cheesy odours" and the Eucalyptus scents of Australia are to the P. and
O. officers, and what the pungent peat smoke of Ireland is to the North
Atlantic seaman. I suppose the memory of the pack ice hissing around a
wooden ship is one of the little voices that call--and they sometimes
call as the memory of "a tall ship and a star to steer her by" calls John
Masefield's seamen "down to the sea again." I sometimes feel a mute fool
at race meetings, society dinner parties, and dances, the lure of the
little voices I know then at its strongest. It is felt by the Polar
explorer in peace times and in the hey-day of prosperity, and it is
surely that which called Scott away, when he had everything that man
wants, and made him write as he lay nobly dying out there in the snowy
"How much better has it been than lounging in too great comfort at home."
But this is yielding dream to my narrative, and I must apologise and
continue with the closing chapter.
After this fog, which held us up awhile, we got into one more lot of pack
varying in thickness and containing some fine long water lanes, and then
we made for Cape Bird, which we rounded on January 18, to find open water
right up to Cape Evans.
A tremendous feast was prepared, the table in the wardroom decked with
little flags and silk ribbons. Letters were done up in neat packets for
each member, and even champagne was got up from the store: chocolates,
cigarettes, cigars, and all manner of luxury placed in readiness.
The ship was specially scrubbed and cleaned, yards were squared, ropes
hauled taut and neatly coiled down, and our best Jacks and Ensigns
hoisted in gala fashion to meet and acclaim our leader and our comrades.
Glasses were levelled on the beach, and soon we discerned little men
running hither and thither in wild excitement; a lump stuck in my throat
at the idea of greeting the Polar Party with the knowledge that Amundsen
had anticipated us, it was something like having to congratulate a dear
friend on winning second prize in a great hard won race--which is exactly
what it was. But it was not even to be that: the ship rapidly closed the
beach, engines were stopped, and a thrill of excitement ran through us.
The shore party gave three cheers, which we on board replied to, and
espying Campbell I was overjoyed, for I feared more on his behalf than on
the others, owing to the small amount of provisions he had left him at
Evans Coves. I shouted out, "Campbell, is every one well," and after a
moment's hesitation he replied, "The Southern Party reached the South
Pole on the 17th January, last year, but were all lost on the return
journey--we have their records." It was a moment of hush and overwhelming
sorrow--a great stillness ran through the ship's little company and
through the party on shore.
I have been reminded of it particularly on the anniversaries of Armistice
The great silence was broken by the order to let the anchor fall: the
splash which followed and the rattle of the chain gave us relief, and
then Campbell and Atkinson came off in a boat to tell us in detail how
misfortune after misfortune had befallen our leader and his four brave
comrades. Slowly and with infinite sadness the flags were lowered from
the mastheads and Scott's little "Terra Nova" stood bareheaded at the
Gate of the Great Ice Barrier.
From the bridge one heard the occasional clatter of plates and cutlery,
for the steward was busy removing the table dressings and putting away
the things that we had no heart for any longer. The undelivered letters
were taken out of the bunks, which had been spread with white clean linen
for our chief and the Polar team, and Drake sealed them up for return to
the wives and mothers who had given up so much in order that their men
A great cross was now carved of Australian jarrah, on which was carved by
CAPT. R.F. Scott, R.N.,
DR. E.A. WILSON, Capt. L.E.G. Oates, INS. DRGS.
LT. H.R. BOWERS, R.I.M.,
PETTY OFFICER E. Evans, R.N.,
Who Died on their
Return from the
To Strive, To Seek,
And Not To Yield.
This cross was borne on a sledge over the frozen sea to Hut Point, and
thence carried by Atkinson, and those who had taken part in the search
for Captain Scott, to the top of Observation Hill, which is in full view
of Cape Evans, and also of Captain Scott's original winter quarters in
the Discovery Expedition. The cross overlooks also his resting place: The
Great Ice Barrier.
As there is nothing to cause this wooden cross to rot, it will remain
standing for an indefinite time.
We left a year's stores for a dozen people at Cape Evans and re-embarked
the remainder of our possessions.
The collections and specimens were carefully stowed in our holds, and
then we took the ship to Cape Royds and Granite Harbour, where geological
depots had been made by Priestley, Taylor, and Debenham.
Finally we revisited Evans Coves, and secured the ship to a natural wharf
of very hard sea ice, which stretches out some distance from the
Priestley here secured his party's geological dump, and while he was away
the remainder of the expedition in little relays visited the igloo where
Campbell and his party spent the previous winter. Concerning the igloo,
the following are my impressions, taken from my diary:
"Never in my life have I experienced such sensations as I did on this
occasion. The visit to the igloo explained in itself a story of
hardship that brought home to us what Campbell never would have told.
There was only one corner of it where a short man could stand upright.
In odd corners were discarded clothes, saturated in blubber and
absolutely black with smoke; the weight of these garments was
extraordinary, and how Campbell's party ever lived through what they
did I don't know:
"Although the igloo was once white inside, blubber stoves had
blackened it throughout. No cell prisoners ever had such discomforts.
(Campbell's simple narrative I read aloud to Bruce from Campbell's
diary. It was a tale of altruism and grit, so simply told, full of
disappointments and privations, all of which they accepted with
fortitude and never a complaint. I had to stop reading it as it
brought tears to my eyes and made my voice thick--ditto old Bruce.)
After spending half an hour at the igloo, and after Pennell had done
some magnetic work, picked up our ice anchors and steamed away."
On 27th January, 1913, after breakfast, I called the staff together in
the wardroom and read out my plans for the future, officially assumed the
command and control of the Expedition.
I then appointed Lieuts. Campbell, Pennell, Bruce, Surgeon E.L. Atkinson,
and Mr. Francis Drake as an executive committee, with myself as
president, to assist me in satisfactorily terminating the Expedition. I
asked every member of the staff publicly if he had any questions to put,
and also if he could suggest any better combination for the committee. As
all were unanimous in the fairness of the selection, it stands. The
minutes of the proceedings were taken down and my remarks placed verbatim
among the records of the Expedition.
We left a depot of provisions at the head of the Bay, its position being
marked by a bamboo and flag.
This depot contains enough foodstuffs to enable a party of five or six
men to make their way to Butter Point, where, another large depot exists.
Early on 26th January we left these inhospitable coasts, and those who
were on deck watched the familiar rocky, snow-capped shores fast
disappearing from view. We had been happy there before disaster overtook
our Expedition, but now we were glad to leave, and some of us must have
realised that these ice-girt rocks and mountains were not meant for human
beings to associate their lives with. For centuries, perhaps for all
time, no other human being will set foot upon the Beardmore, and it is
doubtful if ever the great inland plateau will be re-visited, except
perhaps by aeroplane.
When we left it was a "good-night" scene for most of us. The great white
plateau and peaks were grimly awaiting winter, and they seemed to mock
our departing exploring ship as though glad to be left in their loneland
* * * * *
Corrections made to Collins edition:
p.47 'Mearse' to 'Meares'
p.61 'steamiug' to 'steaming'
p.84 'Pennel' to 'Pennell'
p.85 'when the time for her' to 'when the time came for her'
p.96 'Fedruary' to 'February'
p.96 'Saftey Camp' to 'Safety Camp'
p.108 'athelete' to 'athlete'
p.218 'Cherry-Garrad' to 'Cherry-Garrard'
p.247 'anchored ourselved' to 'anchored ourselves'
p.308 'Cornwell' to 'Cornwall'
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